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Cfie LitJtarp 


(anit)et0itg of jQortfi Carolina 

Collection ot jRottfi Catolmiana 
trom tSc Iliticatp ot 

R.D.1\\ Connor 



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Daniel Augustus Tompkins 







Sometime President of the University of North 
Carolina, the University of Texas, and 
the North Carolina College of Agri- 
culture and Engineering 





















THE rebuilding of the Southern States after 
the Civil War was an achievement of no less 
magnitude than the War itself. The over- 
throw of the South was accomplished in four years; 
its rebuilding was the work of half a century. Strip- 
ped of men and wealth, its industrial system shat- 
tered, its very civilization threatened with radical 
reconstruction, the South lay stricken and prostrate, 
while the victorious North was growing and waxing 
strong. A new generation was born and grown to 
middle age before the wealth of the South was equal to 
what it had been at the beginning of the Civil War. 

But a new South was born at last, begotten of in- 
dustrial forces. This achievement, which had been 
attempted in vain by educational and religious 
missionaries, by authors, editors, statesmen, and 
orators, was wrought at last by silent workers in 
field, forest, mill, and mine. They built a new South, 
not with sword and gun, nor with voice and pen, 
but with steam and electricity with skilled labor 
and machinery, with new roads and a new agricul- 
ture, with thrift and economy, with community 
spirit and cooperation, with democratic government 
and democratic ideals. Their achievement was 
characterized by largeness of vision, by mastery over 
men, and by capacity for work. Their toil and their 
endurance in peace were no less heroic than the 
courage and fortitude of Southern soldiers on fields 
of battle. 



Among the foremost of these commonwealth 
builders was Daniel Augustus Tompkins, industrial 
worker, promoter, and missionary. He was fitted 
for the work by heredity and early environment, by 
character, talents and education. Born and brought 
up on a southern plantation, educated and trained in 
Northern technical schools, mills, and machine shops, 
inventive and receptive of new ideas, strong and ener- 
getic in body and mind, interested in everything 
pertaining to man, and full of zeal to help mankind 
by teaching men to help themselves, he was a rare 
combination of worker and philosopher, of student 
and teacher, of economist and philanthropist; a 
Southern Franklin, growing in poor soil and enriching 
the soil he grew in. 

The story of his life is the story of the New South. 
It will be told in the following pages, as far as possible, 
by himself and in his own words. 



Foreword vii 


I. Early Life on the Southern Plantation 3 

II. Education in South Carolina and 

New York 18 

III. Apprenticeship in the Bethlehem Iron 

Works 33 

IV. Working in Germany 53 

V. The Old Industrial South. ... 68 

VI. The Beginnings of the New South . 77 

VII. Builder of Cotton Oil Mills ... 95 

VIII. Builder of Cotton Mills .... 115 

IX. Builder of Machinery for Cotton In- 
dustries 132 

X. A Plan to Raise Capital for Manufac- 
turing 147 

XI. Promoter of Industrial and Technical 

Education 156 

XII. Builder of Textile Schools .... 187 

Xni, Author of Books on Cotton Industries 219 



XIV. Independent and Industrial Jour- 
nalist 230 

XV. Member of U. S. Industrial Commis- 
sion 256 

XVI. Apostle of Patriotism 284 

XVII. A Plan for Marketing Cotton ... 309 

XVIII. Promoter of Building and Loan Asso- 
ciations 329 

XIX. Various Activities — Charlotte and 

Edgefield 349 

XX. Personal Characteristics — ^Lessons of 

Life — Summary 368 


A Builder of the New South 



I WAS born," said Daniel Augustus Tompkins in 
"Cotton and Cotton Oil/' "on my father's cot- 
ton plantation in Edgefield County, South 
Carolina, October 12, 1851. My boyhood and early 
youth, extending through the Civil War and the dec- 
ade preceding, was spent on the plantation. I was 
a child of the Old South." 

The Southern plantation is described by Tompkins 
with unwearied and affectionate fidelity in various 
speeches and writings. He gives us a picture of its 
daily life — its work and pleasures, its useful lessons 
and fine training. It had laid the foundations of his 
great career. 

"The plantation," he wrote," was a little world 
of itself. Some plantations comprised as high as ten 
to twenty thousand acres of land and one thousand 
slaves; but these were comparatively few. The 
entire investment in such a plantation would have 
been about one million dollars. On the other hand, 
there were a great many instances of small cotton 
planters owning ten or less slaves and three hundred 
or less acres of land. The capital in such cases would 
not exceed eight to ten thousand dollars. The great 



bulk of the Southern cotton crop was produced by 
planters who owned from fifty to one hundred and 
fifty slaves and two thousand to five thousand acres 
of land. It was this great class that made their 
plantation supplies on the plantation and made 
cotton growing a great institution." 

Taking the average plantation of this type at 100 
slaves and 3,000 acres of land, the equipment would 
be as follows: 25 plow hands, 25 miscellaneous 
hands, 50 women and children, non-producers, 25 
mules, 4 horses for family and general use, 600 hogs, 
25 head of cattle, 100 sheep, 10 goats, 15 dogs, 
chickens, guineas, peafowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, 
etc, blacksmith shop, wheelwright and other wood- 
working shops, 20 to 25 negro houses, gin house and 
screw, stables, barn, carriage houses and wagon 
sheds, and in many instances a grist and flour mill 
and a store. 

Such an average plantation of 100 slaves and 3,000 
acres of land, with its equipment, would be worth 
on an average about $100,000. It would produce 
about 100 bales of cotton besides all supplies. Such 
a plantation conducted with energy and good judg- 
ment would easily make $10,000 to $20,000 a year 
according to management and the price of cotton. 
Some planters were thrifty and economical and grew 
rich with great rapidity, while many employed over- 
seers to look after their estates, and spent the in- 
comes in travel or local extravagance. 

The successful management of a large plantation 
required both energy and talent. The idea that the 
ante-bellum cotton planter was indolent, or an in- 
different business man, or that he was always a spend- 
thrift, is totally wrong. On the contrary he was, 
ever on the alert. He was judicial minded, energetic. 


usually well educated, always well trained in every 
operation connected with the production of standard 
crops. He succeeded by the same means that are 
necessary for success now, viz., by better education, 
better training, more energy and steadiness of pur- 
pose than the average of the people who do not 
succeed so well. The average well-regulated planta- 
tion was almost always in the immediate charge of 
the owner. If the owner was a professional man, 
lawyer, doctor, or preacher, there was generally an 
overseer. Many planters who were not professional 
men, also had overseers. These overseers had gen- 
eral charge of the labor. They blew a horn, or 
rang a bell, in the morning to call out the negroes 
to work, and otherwise looked after their labors 
in detail. It was the overseer who flogged the slaves 
when this was considered necessary. To aid the 
overseer or the planter in supervising and forwarding 
the work, negro foremen were selected, who led and 
directed their fellow slaves. At the noon-day rest 
and at the close of each day's work the foremen 
looked after the watering and feeding of animals 
and the care of tools and implements. 

The planter usually rode over the plantation once a 
day, giving directions to the overseer, greeting and 
cheering the workers, inquiring after the absent, and 
in various ways manifesting his interest not only in 
the work but also in the workers and their families. 
The planter's son frequently accompanied him on 
these rounds; and in his father's absence the son 
would take his place. The young master was always 
an object of especial interest to the negroes. In a 
sense he was one of them. They had all ^helped 
raise him ' ; and the younger set had frolicked, sported, 
and escapaded with him. He was now grown be- 


yond them, was in authority over them, but the same 
kindly sympathy remained. They now accepted 
the mastery of their former companion, or nursling, 
not merely from necessity but from affection, admira- 
tion, and respect for his superior intellectual and 
moral power. " The white boy or white girl of slave 
holding families," says "Cotton and Oil," "was to 
them something just a little more than ordinary 
humanity, and thus they could exercise an authority 
and an influence almost incomprehensible. These 
peculiar relations were not without influence on 
the white race. The control was not alone by 
force. The example of perfect conduct was import- 
ant in two particulars. These were physical courage 
and the keeping of one's word. The negroes admired 
the man who was afraid of nothing and who never 
failed in his promises. Therefore the qualities of 
courage and truthfulness became highly developed; 
and to question either of these in any planter meant 
mortal combat or disgrace. Thus came the fre- 
quency of the duel in the South, though it never was 
so frequent as has been supposed." 

Memories of sports and amusements on the planta- 
tion were with Tompkins a fountain of delight, 
bubbling over in his books and speeches. "The 
amusements on the plantation," he wrote in "Cotton 
and Cotton Oil," "were very numerous. In all 
of these the negroes took an interest, and in many 
participated. Fox hunting was very popular. Many 
planters kept fox hounds, some as many as twenty- 
five or thirty. It was not uncommon for ladies to 
ride after the hounds; and occasionally a privileged 
negro would be allowed to go. Almost every planter 
kept pointer or setter dogs, and hunted partridges. 
The planter's sons and negroes kept up usually a 


miscellanous collection of rabbit dogs, coon dogs, 
and 'possum dogs. Horse racing, chicken fighting, 
wrestling, and boxing were all popular and perfectly 
respectable. These sports were conducted with per- 
fect decorum; and as a rule there was little or no bet- 
ting. Betting was not unusual, however, and some- 
times it would run high. House parties and picnics 
with dancing were frequent amongst the young white 
people, while barbecues, with political speaking or 
miscellaneous oratory, were indulged in by the older 
people. The negroes fiddled and danced much. 
The white boys and negroes hunted rabbits in day- 
time and coons and opossums at night. The life 
of the planter and his sons was hardy; and they 
loved hardy sports. These amusements, both in- 
doors and outdoors, never interfered with the duties 
or domestic economies of the household or planta- 

"My brother was a great hunter," writes Hon. A. 
S. Tompkins, "rabbits in the daytime and opossums 
at night. He and the negro boys would often stay 
out till nearly day, with a few hounds on the place. 
He was fond of dogs and horses, a fine rider; was ac- 
tive and self-reliant from boyhood; was fond of bird 
hunting and a good shot on the wing when a boy. 
He was also a great swimmer. I remember his mak- 
ing a splendid bateau of wood and caulking it with 
cotton and tar; in this boat we would fish, often en- 
tirely nude. On one occasion our mother, going 
away from home on a visit, told us not to go in swim- 
ming during her absence more than once a day. He 
laughingly said to me, * Let's stay in the creek all 
day,' which we did. We had much fun in this boat, 
and jumping off a spring board, diving often with a 
dozen black negro boy companions." 


Day by day plantation life was developing for 
young Tompkins a sound mind in a sound body, a 
spirit of self-reliance, capacity for organization and 
leadership, knowledge of and sympathy with negro 
character, besides familiarity with agriculture and 
agricultural problems. His debt to the old planta- 
tion was acknowledged by Tompkins in books and 
speeches. "The Southern planter before the Civil 
War," said he, *' trained his sons to the responsibil- 
ities of life better than is done now. In the old 
plantation situation wealth seems to have been no 
hindrance to the production of a whole man. The 
plantation rarely produced a snob or an incompetent. 
Perhaps the wholesome country air, proximity to 
the soil, and abundant exercise had their influence. 
There can be little doubt that these did have power- 
ful influence. But the proximity to humanity and 
the development of friendly, even loving, sympathy 
for all kinds of humanity, and the practical appren- 
ticeship in every kind of work done on the farm, did 
as much as the soil, climate, and exercise. 

"The ante-bellum planter's son was not only in 
close personal association with the labor and the 
negroes on the place, but this relation with all about 
him was one of sound, practical human interest on 
both sides. By force of surrounding circumstances 
he was serving an apprenticeship for leadership. 
Whether required to work or not, no boy of sound 
mind and body could well grow up on a plantation 
without learning to plow, to ride a mule, to do all the 
operations of a plantation." 

"My brother took an interest in the entire planta- 
tion," writes A. S. Tompkins, "and loved to do, 
as well as to see, every kind of work that was going 
on. He would often voluntarily plow all day, cut 


and shock oats and wheat, feed the cotton into the 
gin, or drive the mules around the big upright wheel 
under the gin." 

The supervision of his father's plantation was often 
entrusted to young Tompkins, who quickly mastered 
the details of its work and management. But his 
chief delight was in the blacksmith shop and the 
shops for woodworking, where his constructive talent 
and his aptness with tools found opportunity for 
practical exercise. *'In the carpenter shop my 
brother worked on everything from fixing an old 
gun or clock to making a complete wagon," says 
A. S. Tompkins. "He was fond of helping make 
the water wheels and trunks for our father's grist 
mill, a difficult task, and took great interest in the 
mill, working on the dam when needing repau-s. I 
well remember when he took a notion to make a 
croquet set, balls, mallets, etc., and wore me out 
turning the old lathe for him. The balls were 
turned from walnut, and he made as good a set as 
you could buy. 

**My brother made enough money, mainly by 
carpenter work at home before he went to college, 
to cover his college expenses. When a mere boy, 
not yet in his teens, he built a neat picket fence all 
around the yard at home. He was constantly busy 
helping to build and repair barns, negro cabins, and 
other farm houses. Immediately after the war, 
when times were hard, he was especially helpful to 
our father by building two bridges, which father 
got under contract from the County Commissioners 
of Edgefield County. I remember one of the bridges 
was across Rocky Creek near home. In fact, one 
end of the bridge landed on our plantation. My 
brother was only sixteen years old, but he went 


at that bridge with all the enthusiasm that Napoleon 
went at Lodi. He would wake up before day and 
lay restless w^aiting for day to break to go down to 
the creek and work on the bridge. He made a fine 
job of it; and the public said it was the best bridge 
ever put on that stream. All the logs and timbers 
for both bridges he got out with negro labor from 
V the woods of father's plantation; and by superintend- 
ing the work and planning the bridges himself, he 
made a profit of $2,000 on a $3,000 contract." 

In the home also the lad was growing and develop- 
ing under the guidance of a wise, capable, and rarely 
gifted mother. The women of the Old South have 
often been pictured as idle and self-indulgent, more 
energetic in the pursuit of pleasure than in the per- 
formance of domestic duties. Never was picture 
falser and more unreal. The typical Southern 
woman, the wife of the average planter, was a model 
of industry, efl5ciency, and unselfishness. Her do- 
mestic establishment was large, requiring for its 
management careful supervision with much physical 
labor. The household usually included, besides 
her husband, children, and domestic servants, a 
goodly number of visiting relatives, or other guests, 
with their retinue of children and servants. Passing 
strangers also were freely entertamed, oftentimes 
with servants and horses. 

Outside the family household also the planter's 
wife was burdened with responsibility for the health, 
conduct, and employment of all negroes who were not 
actively at work in the big fields. It was her daily 
task to inspect the negro cabins, to administer medi- 
cine, to give directions for work, health, and sanita- 
tion. When occasion required, as it frequently did, 
she performed the duties of midwife, nurse, physician, 


or spiritual comforter. Upon her the burdens of 
slavery pressed more heavily than upon her husband. 
Her life was largely spent in trying to remedy its 
wastefulness and inefficiency. Her finer nature 
shrank from its immoralities and cruelties. 

To the negroes the planter's wife seemed scarcely 
less than an angel. Too often, alas! she was forced 
to become a protecting angel, standing between the 
overseer's lash and the cowering slave, between the 
weeping mother and the auction block. Her purity 
of life, sometimes in marked contrast to her husband's, 
her gentleness and firmness, her all-seeing eye and 
skilful hand, her tact, wisdom, and judgment, and 
especially her easy control over everybody, including 
even "old master," made her with the ignorant and 
emotional slaves an object not only of strong love, 
but of deep and superstitious reverence. Every 
negro on the plantation would have given his life 
in her protection. She was safe by night or by day 
in the remotest negro cabin, in the solitary woods, 
or alone and unattended on unfrequented roads. 
"The influence of the planter's family," wrote Tom- 
pkins in "Cotton and Cotton Oil," "was of greater 
importance than was ever appreciated in keeping 
the better natures of the negroes to the fore. A very 
generous and friendly kindness has an immense and 
far-reaching influence. During the Civil War the 
cotton plantations were practically in charge of the 
planters' wives, assisted by a few old and decrepit 
men and boys under sixteen years of age. It is the 
marvel of marvels that in this condition, lasting 
nearly four years, there was never an outbreak or a 
symptom of discontent among the slaves. The negro 
character itself, the very exact and practical knowl- 
edge by the planters' wives of the negro character 


and the past training of the negro, all contributed 
to this result. The extent of the trust that was 
placed in the negro's keeping and the perfection 
of its keeping on his part during the Civil War can 
never be fully realized or appreciated." 

On some plantations, where the planter, being a 
lawyer or physician, was much absent from home 
because of professional duties, or was indifferent to 
all work and economies excepting the work of grow- 
ing cotton in the big fields, the planter's wife, be- 
sides her domestic duties, had the care and super- 
vision of the garden, the orchard, the dairy, the poul- 
try yard, and even the piggery. The work also of the 
loom and spinning wheel, where such industries 
existed, came usually under her direction, as well 
as the cutting out and making of clothing for the 
large plantation population. It was an endless 
task, full of labor, perplexity, and nervous strain; 
but the planter's wife performed it, usually with 
cheerfulness, intelligence, and efficiency. Trained 
in such a school, many women developed ability 
and experience adequate to the management of the 
entire plantation. During the four years of civil war 
the women of the South, aided by half -grown sons, 
successfully managed the farms and plantations, sup- 
plying food and clothing not only for the entire civil 
population but also for the armies in the field. Such 
a woman of the finest type was Hannah Virginia 
Smyly, the mother of Daniel A. Tompkins. 

"Our mother was of Scotch-Irish stock," writes 
A. S. Tompkins, "a cousin of John C. Calhoun, whom 
she much resembled in her pale, firm, clear-cut 
features. Her complexion was fair with light blue 
eyes and mild golden-hued hair, not red, but light 
brown bathed in sunshine. She was five feet six 


inches tall, rather slender in stature, weighing about 
one hundred and thirty pounds. Her health was 
usually good, although delicate, especially after 
living through the great strain of the Civil War. 
She was educated in the country schools and the 
village academy, and was graduated from the cele- 
brated Moravian Academy at Salem, N. C, whose 
excellent training in handiwork and domestic scientie 
and arts, as well as in books and music, had attracted 
planters' daughters from all the Southern States. 
Our mother was a perfect complement to our father 
in person, character, and ability. He was large, stout, 
and ruddy, weighing over two hundred pounds, 
with coal-black eyes and hair, a brilliant man of 
great imagination, a ready and fluent speaker, fond 
of anecdotes and society, attractive and brilliant 
in conversation and social life, amiable and easy- 
going, more devoted to the practice of medicine and 
to scientific and philosophical study than to the details 
of plantation management. He owned a fine library, 
and was a diligent student of human history and 
human nature, delighting to search out the secret 
springs and motives of human conduct. Our 
mother was firm, with great decision of character, 
kind and sympathetic, full of religious faith which 
supported a strong sense of duty. She was an active 
member of the Baptist Church, and zealously in- 
structed the negro children, as well as her own, in 
the Bible catechism, taking us all regularly to church 
and Sunday-school. Her words were few, clear-cut, 
and potent. The slaves loved, revered, and obeyed 
her. She was opposite to father in every way, 
matter of fact, industrious, and rigidly economical. 
She dominated him by superior will power and ex- 
ecutive ability. During his absence in the army she 


was reputed to have made better crops and managed 
things better generally than he did when at home. 
Her talent for business, her energetic nature, and her 
strong sense of duty made her a perfect realization 
of the virtuous woman portrayed by King Lemuel, 
*The prophecy that his mother taught him,' in 
Proverbs, Chapter 31, verses 10 to 31. She was just 
such a woman. I can see her now in my mind's 
eye as she sat by the fireside at night, during father's 
absence in the war, listening to the old overseer as he 
gave her the account of the day's work on the planta- 
tion. She knew every field, in what it was planted, 
its proper culture, and the quantity of daily work 
that should be performed. She kept track of all 
the cows and calves, of the sows and pigs, the flock 
of sheep, the mules and horses. Under her watch- 
ful eye the crops of corn, oats, wheat, and cotton were 
most carefully husbanded. She saw to the harvest- 
ing and grinding of the sugar cane and the boiling 
of the sorghum molasses, to the curing of the pork 
and bacon. Her vigilant eyes scrutinized the daily 
work and daily feeding of man and beast. Owing 
to non-intercourse with the North and blockade of 
our seaports all food and clothing had to be made 
on the plantation. We had a corn and flour mill 
run by water, a gin house with mule power, a molasses 
mill and boiler. My mother also fixed up a boiler 
to cook cottonseed and peas for cow feed. She raised 
plenty of chickens, turkeys, guineas, and ducks for 
the table, geese for feathers, and wool for clothes. 
The wool she packed and sent to Chatham Manufac- 
turing Company at Elkins Valley, N. C, whence it 
came back in cloth for us and the slaves. She ship- 
ped hides to the tannery, and got in exchange shoes 
for the whole plantation. Toward the end of the 


war, when salt was very scarce, she dug up the salty 
earth in the smoke house, ran it through the hopper, 
and extracted the salt for table use. 

"She was fond of bees and kept a lot of some 
twenty hives. It was amusing to see how my father, 
who was afraid of the bees, always got stung when 
he went about the hives; but she could walk up 
amongst the bees, who seemed to know her, and 
without alarm but with quiet ease could handle 
them with impunity. She always had plenty of 
honey. All the year round she kept up a most excel- 
lent vegetable garden, also a fine fruit orchard, es- 
pecially apples and peaches, which she would dry 
for winter use. She was a good cook, too; and her 
negro cooks, although willing and capable, always 
did the kitchen work under my mother's personal 

"My mother wasted nothing, not even time; for 
she was always an early riser. Her capacity for 
details was truly wonderful. What with looking 
after the feeding and clothing of all these slaves and 
her own family, the farm work, the feeding of stock, 
chickens, etc., the care of the sick, the garden, the 
making of soap and candles, having the crops housed, 
grinding the grain, having the cotton picked, ginned, 
and packed, killing the hogs and trying out the lard, 
making sausage and liver puddings, etc., her dairy, 
her bees, smoking the meat, shearing the sheep, send- 
ing off the wool, seeing that we children went off to 
school well clad and with a bucket of bountiful 
dinner for the noon recess — I say, what with all 
these many duties filling each day, as the queen bee, 
on her well-equipped farm, it is amazing to me, when I 
think of it, how she ever did it. 

"When the negroes were freed, she did not cower 


nor sit discouraged. Her fortitude rose nobly to 
the occasion, and she met it with undaunted courage 
and self-reliance. She was a daily inspiration to my 
brother. He would look up into her bright, clear 
eyes and catch the light of her conquered but un- 
dismayed spirit, and was ever ready to stand by 
her and help her amid adversity and sorrow. He 
loved his mother with wonderful devotion, because, I 
reckon, he was so much like her himself. They were 
both firm and self-reliant, strongly marked by de- 
cision of character. It was to her that he was in- 
debted for those deep forces that beget genius." 

At the close of the Civil War the South was bank- 
rupt. Most of the planters were overwhelmed and 
ruined. The loss of slaves, the payment of old debts, 
the meeting of new obligations, the disorganization 
of labor, the general despondency and lack of enter- 
prise were burdens under which even the strongest 
staggered and fell. Amid this general ruin a few 
survived by reason of exceptional wisdom, foresight, 
and thrift. Among these few was the family of Doc- 
tor Tompkins. " The fortunes of our family, at the end 
of the war," writes A. S. Tompkins, "were saved by 
my mother, my father, of course, cooperating when- 
ever at home. Every year during the war my mother 
packed up, as a surplus, and stored away, about thirty- 
five bales of cotton. So, when the war ended, there 
wajs some hundred and thirty bales of cotton, which 
my faiher sold at over thirty cents a pound in gold, 
making about $20,000. I well remember seeing my 
parents together counting it. It was in shot bags, and 
as it lay in glittering piles on the bed it was a most 
fajscinating sight. My mother had looked forward to 
this with that high degree of resourcefulness which 
characterized my brother. This money made my 


father comparatively easy, although he had to pay 
some rather heavy security debts." 

At an early age the character of Tompkins, in its 
broad outlines, was clearly manifest. Those who 
attribute character chiefly to maternal influence will 
see his mother reproduced in the practical talents 
of her son : in love of work, executive ability , thrift, 
and economy, patience, persistence, and fortitude. 
His intellect was developing more slowly, but al- 
ready was following the lines of paternal inheritance. 
**My father often urged me to keep a diary,*' he 
wrote in his memoirs. "I asked him what there was 
to fill up a diary in the life of a remote plantation 
worked by negroes, with no white person present 
excepting our family. He said in reply: *You are 
living in the greatest era of the world's history. You 
have seen the emancipation of four million negro 
slaves and the preservation of the American Union. 
Our age is wonderful also for scientific discoveries 
and inventions. Some day you will be an actor in 
this age; and it behooves you to keep your eyes open, 
mind alert, vision clear, and spirit sympathetic to 
all the movements of humanity, whether they happen 
in your neighborhood, or far away in the distant 
parts of the earth.' " 

Father and mother were happily blended in their 
oldest son. His intellect was his father's, his char- 
acter was his mother's. His talents for leadership 
and mastery were early developed through the train- 
ing of plantation life. With his father's imagination 
and mental grasp he was to conceive great enter- 
prises; he was to execute them with his mother's 
patience, accuracy, and thoroughness. 





A T THE age of sixteen young Tompkins was 
L\ ready for the university. He had gone 
JL JL through the training of the old field schools 
and the Edgefield Academy, had received the usual 
instruction in Latin, Greek, English, and mathe- 
matics, had shown especial fondness for mathematics, 
indifference to the languages, and marked aversion 
to the weekly Friday afternoon exercises in declama- 
tion, debate, and oratory. These exercises were 
public, and were the most prominent and popular 
features of Southern schools. They were the nur- 
series of Southern oratory. 

The popular fondness for oratory in the Old South 
amounted almost to a passion. Not only the hust- 
ings, but the bench, the bar, and the pulpit were 
arenas for the constant display of oratorical power. 
Every court week was a holiday, during which people 
flocked daily to the courthouse from the four quar- 
ters of the county, to hear the judge's charge and 
the lawyers' speeches. One day of each court week, 
even in years when there were no elections or political 
campaigns, was given over to political speaking. 
Regular political campaigns lasted five or six months, 
with daily combats of oratory between all the rival 
candidates. On Sundays the entire population, at- 



traded by pulpit oratory, flocked to church. In 
rural churches service lasted all day, with two or 
more sermons each an hour long and delivered with 
vigor, zeal, and occasional eloquence. *Forty- 
parson power ' was no figure of speech in a Southern 
rural pulpit. The demand for orators in the Old 
South was unlimited, and the supply was equal to 
the demand. It was furnished by the educational 
system, which made the South a land of talkers, 
debaters, orators, and statesmen, of high and low 

The elementary schools had given Tompkins a 
surfeit of debate and oratory. His joy was the joy 
of work, his chief abhorrence was a war of words. 
And now in a select company of youth who sought 
higher education, not as preparation for life but as 
the equipment of a gentleman, he entered the Uni- 
versity of South Carolina. He found a noble nur- 
sery of character and manhood, a perfect fruition 
of Southern ideals. There was an air of freedom 
about the university that nurtured men. Its presi- 
dents had all been marked by strong individuality 
and breadth of view. They represented the most 
divergent and extreme views of life : Jonathan Maxcy , 
Baptist preacher; Thomas Cooper, English radical 
and free thinker; Thornwell, rigid Calvinist; Barnwell, 
low church Episcopalian; Longstreet, Methodist 
preacher and author of "Georgia Scenes," and later 
James Woodrow, modern Calvinist and Darwinian. 
It may be doubted whether toleration of opinion 
in a state educational institution was ever carried 
further than in the University of South Carolina. 

The students of the university were greatly 
influenced by this spirit of freedom, not toward 
belief or disbelief but toward manliness and inde- 


pendence of belief and of character. Professor 
Joseph Le Conte, whose experience as college pro- 
fessor in South Carolina and elsewhere extends 
through half a century, was filled with admiration 
for the South Carolina students. He writes of them 
as follows in his delightful autobiography: "I have 
said that the students of the South Carolina College 
were high-spirited though turbulent. I should add 
that I had never previously seen (nor have I since) 
so high a sense of honor among students in their 
relation to one another and to the faculty. No form 
of untruthfulness among themselves or toward the 
faculty (such, for example, as cheating at examina- 
tions) was for a moment tolerated. Any student 
suspected of such practices was cut by his fellow 
students and compelled to leave. When a student 
was brought up before the faculty for any offence, 
no other question was asked but, *Did you have any- 
thing to do with this affair?' The answer was 
*Yes' or *No'; and he was condemned or acquitted on 
his own statement. Sometimes a student might, 
on some technical ground, refuse to answer, but no 
one ever lied.** 

The spirit of freedom and manliness thus highly 
developed in the University of South Carolina was 
characteristic of Southern life. It was the pride 
of the South and the admiration of her critics. One 
of the ablest of Northern statesmen, Hon. George 
Francis Hoar, an early abolitionist and a lifelong 
political foe of the South, bore generous testimony 
to the virtues begotten of this spirit: "Southern men 
were unsurpassed among the nations of the earth in 
courage, spirit, hospitality, and generosity to their 
equals. They were apt to command and apt to 
succeed. They were able politicians. With the 


love and habit of truth, which becomes brave men in 
all common concerns, they were subtle and skilful 
diplomatists when diplomacy was needed to accom- 
plish any political end." Twenty -five years later, 
in his delightful autobiography, after longer and 
fuller experience, he repeats and strengthens this 
testimony : 

"My long conflict with their leaders has impressed 
me with an ever-increasing admiration of the great 
and high qualities of our Southern people. Their 
love of home; their chivalrous respect for woman; 
their courage; their delicate sense of honor, their 
constancy, which can abide by an opinion, or a pur- 
pose, or an interest of their states, through adversity 
and through prosperity, through the years and 
through the generations, are things by which the 
people of the more mercurial North may take a lesson. 
And there is another thing — covetousness, corrup- 
tion, the low temptation of money has not yet found 
any place in our Southern politics." 

The leaders of the Old South were indeed men of 
courage and character. Many of them were nur- 
tured in the University of South Carolina, for South 
Carolina was the heart of the South. Its strength 
and its weakness was individualism. Like ancient 
Attica, South Carolina cultivated and honored 
to the highest degree her favorite sons of genius, 
while neglecting the great mass of toiling humanity. 
The result was a constellation of stars that shone with 
rare brilliance in the political firmament and long 
guided the destinies of the South, but set finally 
in the dark and stormy sea of social and political 

In the University of South Carolina Tompkins re- 
ceived excellent training from accomplished and 


gifted teachers. He was interested in several studies 
and proficient in all. He preserved for forty years 
among his private papers as valued treasures his 
lecture notes on geology under Joseph Le Conte, on 
natural philosophy under John Le Conte, on polit- 
ical econom}^ and history under President Barnwell, 
on mathematics and engineering under General 
Alexander. He faithfully utilized all the opportun- 
ities of the university, not only in classrooms but 
in college life, taking an active part in social pleasures, 
athletic sports, college politics, and even in the much- 
abhorred literary society exercises. 

But his heart was not in the work of the university. 
He longed for knowledge of life, for active participa- 
tion in the stirring, striving life of the world around 
him. He saw his native State stricken and im- 
poverished, its wealth destroyed, its industrial sys- 
tem disorganized, its future dark and uncertain. 
With fine penetration and rare vision he perceived 
that the need of his beloved South was not oratory 
and debate, but skilled labor and machinery, not 
political power, but the development of material 
resources. In these views and feelings he was 
cheered and encouraged by his professor of engineer- 
ing and mathematics. General E. P. Alexander, a 
son of the Old South, a veteran of the Civil War, and 
a prophet of the New South. 

"The first important influence in directing my 
life," he writes in his memoirs, "came from General 
E. P. Alexander, while I was a student in the South 
Carolina University. He was the professor in mathe- 
matics and engineering; and, while I was under his 
instruction, our personal relations became closer 
than that of professor and student, by a sort of grav- 
ity, as it were. I had a bent for industrial develop- 


ment, and he was the first person I had ever met who 
had any sympathy with my aspirations. I was very 
fond of construction; and he, as a graduate of West 
Point, had been an important constructing engineer 
before and during the war. In talking over with me 
my hopes and expectations, he advised me to seek a 
technical education as a civil engineer, and to learn 
a trade also while studying to be an engineer. He 
recommended to me the Rensselaer Polytechnic 
Institute, at Troy, New York." 

General Alexander was a man of marked ability 
and versatility. His colleague, Joseph Le Conte, 
says of him in his charming autobiography: "Pro- 
fessor Alexander, who had been Chief Engineer in 
Lee's Army, was a hearty, whole-souled, enthusiastic 
friend and companion and a kind of genius in math- 
ematics and especially in engineering." He was not 
only a mathematician and engineer but also an Eng- 
lish scholar and versatile writer. Above all, he was a 
capable man of affairs with fine executive talents. 
He was soon called from the university into the ac- 
tive life of the business world. General Alexander 
found a congenial spirit in Daniel A. Tompkins, and 
loved him as a brother. "If you get down as far 
South as this," he wrote Tompkins from Alabama in 
1878, "be sure and stop and see me — for you are 
one of the scholars I was proud of, and I always re- 
member you with very great pleasure." Their 
friendship was kept up by correspondence until 
Alexander's death. 

Following the advice of General Alexander, 
Tompkins was enrolled in the summer of 1869 as a 
student in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at 
Troy, New York. It was a long step from a South- 
ern literary college to a Northern school of technology, 


from a South Carolina cotton plantation to a New 
York manufacturing city. But the spirit of the 
institute and the spirit of the city was also the spirit 
of Tompkins. He rejoiced to find halls for draft- 
ing and designing instead of literary societies for de- 
bate and oratory ; to see displayed on the college walls 
not portraits of politicians but sketches of bridges, 
engines, and buildings; to hear discussions about 
power and machinery instead of debates on secession 
and state's rights. Not a student in the institute 
was expecting to be an orator or a statesman. No- 
body was there from fashion nor for gentility. Every- 
one had come for work. The Lares and Penates of 
the institute were not Calhoun, Hayne, andMcDuffie, 
but Newton, Watt, Stevenson, Franklin, and Roeb- 

From the very start Tompkins took rank among 
the best students. He not only did the work but 
enjoyed it; and by his character, conduct, and super- 
ior work made impressions upon his college mates 
which remained fresh and strong for half a century. 

"As I recall the long-ago days at Troy," writes 
one of his classmates, "I see Tompkins as a bright 
and clean fellow, for whom we had always high re- 
spect. He was among the best scholars in the class, 
his percentage ranking among the highest. As a 
draftsman he excelled all his classmates. Al- 
though quiet and reserved in his manners, he 
displayed a strong character, having his likes and 
dislikes, but was always gentlemanly and courteous. 
Being older than I, he advised and assisted me in my 
studies, for which I have never forgotten him." 

"I was Tompkins* roommate a couple of years at 
Troy," writes another. "While cordial and consider- 
ate, he was generally quite reserved. His self- 


reliance was unusual for his age. He was absolutely 
honest in his conversation, without fear of any kind, 
and very independent, so far as the usual student 
customs and traditions were concerned. He be- 
longed to no secret society, but was elected Grand 
Marshal in his junior year, an honor always before 
carried off by secret society men. His means were 
apparently limited, but he always kept up his end 
whenever he joined in any student frolics. I do not 
remember his using tobacco, and he was very sparing 
of intoxicants, a little beer being his limit. He 
showed strong, determined, honest character, a little 
high strung and sensitive. He was generally fair in 
his judgments, but with little patience for what we 
now call dudes, and none for mollycoddles. He was 
a clean, high-toned fellow, of strong, manly character. 
I recall his punching a masher who tried to flirt with 
a lady friend, who resented the liberty and told 
Tommy of it." 

"We lived in the same boarding house and on the 
same floor,'* writes H. B. Binsse. "I saw him nearly 
every day for three years. We became fast friends, 
as I was greatly drawn by his manly, dignified, up- 
right character. His character was unusually at- 
tractive. He was straightforward and frank, but 
never offered opinions which he knew would be dis- 
agreeable. His conversation was always delightful, 
for he was full of original points of view. He was a 
born leader. He had perfect self-confidence with a 
clear, well-poised mind, very keen perception of 
character, and great breadth of view. When he was 
graduated, he was regarded as the most promising 
man in his class." 

The instruction in the Rensselaer Polytechnic In- 
stitute did not at that time include practical work in 


mechanical and electrical engineering. These depart- 
ments were not equipped with shops or laboratories. 
The instruction was not satisfactory to Tomp- 
kins, who thought that a complete education should 
combine practice and theory. On his father's plan- 
tation he had learned the value of practical work in 
the blacksmith and carpenter shops, in the gin and 
compress houses, as well as in the planting and har- 
vesting of the cotton crop. He had always been a 
practical worker; and now, as a student of the in- 
stitute, he was not content with theoretical knowledge 
of mechanical engineering. With fine resolution 
and wisdom he obtained for himself in the city the 
practical instruction which he could not get in the 
college. During his entire college course of four 
years he was at work every Saturday and all the 
vacations in the mills and machine shops of Troy. 
** During the long summer vacation of 1870," writes 
his college mate, N. B. Kellogg, "Tompkins and I 
were the only students of the institute who remained 
in Troy for the summer, except resident pupils. 
He secured employment in the Bessemer Iron Works, 
while I was assistant to one of the professors in his 
city work. Tompkins did this work, not for the 
purpose of getting money, but more for practical 
experience. He went in as a working hand to be- 
come familiar with the operating of the Bessemer 
plants. I remember hearing that he then developed 
the plates for a *converter' for the first time, they 
having been cut by trying and fitting until then, 
especially the curve of intersection of cylinder and 
oblique cone at the top. This was no great engin- 
eering achievement, of course; but no one had thought 
of doing it before, and no one thought of doing any- 
thing else afterward." 


Although busy with books and work, Tompkins 
found time for enjoying the usual pleasures of college 
life. He was one of the editors of the Tripod and 
member of the boat club. His personality was quiet 
but attractive, and secured for him the highest honor 
within the gift of his fellow students, election as 
Grand Marshal of the college. "I have a special 
reason to remember Tompkins,'' writes his class- 
mate, Charles Campbell, "for he defeated me for 
Grand Marshal, an oflfice in which he represented 
the whole student body, the highest office within 
their gift. He represented them in all conferences 
with the President or Faculty, or with the Mayor 
of the City, in organizing and leading processions 
and festivities on public occasions, and by presiding 
at all meetings of the entire student body. He de- 
serves great credit for the honor. I coveted the 
office with a youthful ambition from the day of my 
registration. Tompkins was a calm and judicial- 
minded man, an unpretentious and hardworking 
student, plain in dress and address, not taking a 
prominent part in athletics. His recreations were of 
the best and simplest nature. He was there for 
business and not for pleasure." 

There is something picturesque, almost pathetic, 
in this incident of a Northern student body selecting 
for their leader the son of a Confederate soldier and 
slaveholder. The students gave it especial emphasis 
by presenting Tompkins with a gold-headed cane, 
inscribed, "R. P. I. — To D. Augustus Tompkins, 
from the Students— Grand Marshal— May 30, 1873." 
He preserved the cane, and bequeathed it as an 
heirloom to his brother. 

While engaged in vacation work Tompkins made 
the acquaintance of Augustus L. Holley, an engineer 


of rare talents and character. For the second time 
in his career he was brought into close contact with a 
large-minded friend, capable of recognizing talent and 
generous in inspiring youthful ambition. "Before 
my course was finished in the institute," he says in 
his memoirs, "I fell in with Mr. A. L. Holley. He 
was a young engineer who was introducing the 
Bessemer process into this country. Youthful as I 
was, I recognized in him a man of ability. I did 
considerable work for him tracing drawings during 
my vacations. He also gave me work to do in my 
room while I was attending the institute. Through 
his influence, too, I secured work during my spare 
time at Toly' in the John A. Griswold & Company's 
Steel Works of Troy, where I took a course of ap- 
prentice and machine shop." Mr. Holley was at 
this time and until his death a trustee of the in- 
stitute. In 1875 he became president of the Amer- 
ican Institute of Mining Engineers and member 
of the Government Board for testing structural 

Upon graduation from the institute Tompkins 
was invited by Holley to become draftsman and 
private secretary in his office in Brooklyn, New York. 
The invitation was accepted, and the friendly rela- 
tionship formed during college days was continued 
a year longer, with satisfaction to Holley and inspira- 
tion for Tompkins. "My service under Holley has 
always been of immense value to me," says Tompkins 
in his memoirs. "He was a man of remarkable 
ability and extraordinary amiability." The follow- 
ing testimonial, written at this time by Holley, was 
carefully preserved by Tompkins among the treas- 
ures of his early life: "Mr. D. A. Tompkins, a grad- 
uate of the Rensselaer Institute, has been employed 


by me as draftsman, and in working up machinery 
designs, for more than a year; and I part with his 
services now only on account of my proposed ab- 
sence from the country. I take pleasure in stating 
that Mr. Tompkins has proved himself to be an 
accurate and a remarkably rapid draftsman; and 
that his industry and fidelity, as well as his technical 
knowledge, fit him to be a valuable assistant in any 
engineering work." 

Before leaving America Mr. HoUey interested him- 
self to secure for Tompkins employment in the 
Bethlehem Iron Works under John Fritz. It was 
time for a change. Although pleasantly situated, 
Tompkins was getting restless under the monotony 
of the drawing room, was eager for active work, was 
anxious to be making, producing, creating something 
real and tangible. In a letter to his friend and class- 
mate, Walbridge, written near the end of his year in 
Brooklyn, he says: "My work here is pleasant, but 
not in the right direction. I am fixed in my deter- 
mination to work out a career in iron; and I shall do 
this, even if I have to renounce all claims upon the 
men who have already succeeded, and work my own 
way up from a one-horse blacksmith shop." With 
this purpose he was glad to leave Brooklyn and to 
be enrolled as a workman under John Fritz with the 
Bethlehem Iron Company. 

But this year in Brooklyn was not given entirely 
to work. Social life attracted him very strongly. 
Invitations were frequent, to and from college mates 
and other friends, for dinner, theatres, excursions, 
and other pleasures. His social instincts were 
strong and well developed. The hospitality of his 
father's home had always been large and generous. 
It had become a part of his nature. "Come over 


to-morrow about five o'clock. We will see Mr. 
Holley, dine at my house, and go to theatre," he 
writes Binsse. "I would be glad to have you come 
over some evening, and go to the theatre with me, 
and spend the night, if possible. I think I might be 
able to make it a pleasant evening for you; and it 
certainly would be a great pleasure for me to have 
you" — to another classmate. He takes Christmas 
dinner with Frith, spends Sunday with Binsse at 
Long Branch, goes to churches, theatres, museums, 
art exhibits, and libraries, as well as shops, mills, 
and factories. Everywhere he is observant and 
thoughtful. His faculties are alert; his mind open 
and receptive. His letters to home folks are readable 
and suggestive, clear-cut and natural in style, as 
well as instructive and entertaining. The following 
illustrates his mental habits: "New York is all ablaze 
with Christmas presents and preparations for the 
usual festivities on New Year's. Everybody gives 
and everybody expects to receive presents; and there 
is a sort of general rejoicing and calculating whether 
the sum total of presents received is greater than 
that of presents given. I am, of course, a silent and 
watchful observer, expecting neither to give nor to re- 
ceive. I have lately been to an artists' reception. 
Before telling about it, I will tell what an artists' 
reception is. There is an association of the artists 
in Brooklyn, and amongst the number are many 
who make good pictures. Once a year they collect 
together all their pictures and have an exhibition 
and reception, allowing in the meantime enough 
rich people, who are not artists to join and pay the 
expenses. They have the Academy of Music floored 
above the chairs and richly carpeted, in order to 
make a nice promenade. A door has been cut be- 


tween the Academy and the art room, which is the 
next building to the Academy, so that it is all made 
into one grand suite of rooms. The art rooms are 
lined with pictures, the Academy richly ornamented 
with flowers, and everybody who can possibly get 
a ticket, goes. The tickets are given away only by 
the artists. I was given two by an artist who was 
pleased with having heard that I had spoken very 
highly of some of his pictures in New York. I am 
much delighted that I went. I looked at the pic- 
tures and saw the promenaders from the gallery of 
the theatre. I never saw such magnificently dressed 
women, fine music, and beautiful flowers and pictures 
in my life. It was a sort of realization of an artist's 
dream of life. But the greatest of all the New York 
wonders is Henry Ward Beecher. The originality 
of his sermons is something I have been more sur- 
prised at than anything I have heard since I came 

While employed by Holley and residing in Brook- 
lyn Tompkins formed the acquaintance and friend- 
ship of a refined, cultured, and once wealthy family, 
whom he delighted to visit. His amusing tales of 
boarding-house discomforts, his manifest love of 
home life, his strong character and marked personal- 
ity induced them to accept him as a member of their 
household. Here began a friendship of two congenial 
souls, ripening into the deepest love, whose fruition 
was prevented by the early invalidism and un- 
timely death of his beloved. For ten years he poured 
out his soul to her in letters that mirrored his daily 
life and thoughts. After her death these letters were 
returned to him; and after his death they were found 
among his private papers, folded and sealed with hers, 
witnesses of hopes and longings that were never 


realized. Extracts from those letters are given in 
the following pages, revealing in distant glimpses the 
warm and tender heart of a man apparently cold 
and reserved, unlocking the inner doors of a life 
through which, thereafter, few if any ever entered. 





HIS life with the Bethlehem Iron Works is 
mirrored by Tompkins in letters to his be- 
loved, which present not only a record of his 
work but an interesting picture of character devel- 

The Bethlehem Iron Works was at this time the 
chief steelmaking plant in America. It was under 
the management of John Fritz, America's foremost 
iron master, a sturdy, rugged, inventive, self-made 
German. As a young apprentice Tompkins came to 
Fritz almost with reverence, presently he inspected 
hun and examined him with cool and critical independ- 
ence, finally he estimated and valued hun with just 
judgment and grateful appreciation. His appren- 
ticeship in the mills was spent during a long period 
of commercial and financial depression throughout 
the business world, a period wherein many businesses 
perished and few expanded. 

"I arrived in Bethlehem yesterday and saw Mr 
Fritz. He has given me employment at $75.00 
a month." 

**I am very fairly started at my work, which 
so far has pleased me very much. Mr. Fritz 



has me working on a design for some new 

"I have a feeling that I ought to persist in being 
absolutely punctual at my work, until I shall have 
something to identify me with the work. For in- 
stance, since I have been here I have been working a 
good deal on the design of some new engines which 
Mr. Fritz speaks of building; and, if he should con- 
clude to build them, having had most to do with 
the design, I would naturally be depended upon to 
keep everything straight ; and that dependence would 
make for me a sort of tie. I want to have it so that 
when I am away they will miss me; and it seems to 
me the best way to get a start in that direction is by 
punctuality and a willingness always to accept re- 

"I have been reading the last two nights a book 
that has afforded me the sort of satisfaction that 
religious persons receive from the Bible. The book 
is by Philip Gilbert Hamerton, and is called *The 
Intellectual Life.* He calls disinterestedness the 
highest quality of a fine character." 

" Last night I went to see Davenport in "Othello" at 
Allentown. I walked back after the play, having 
Frith with me for company. It is six miles." 

"Acting upon your suggestion to discard my old 
clothes altogether and buy some that are plain and 
neat for the works, I have purchased the cloth for a 


pair of pants, the sum total of cost will not exceed 
$3.50; and they are better than you would infer from 
the price. The necessity of economy will not allow 
me to get an outfit at once. The most I can do is to 
look the best I can afford. 

"Upon examination of my feelings in the matter 
of dress in social life I am come to the conclusion 
that my contentment with being ill dressed is not so 
much indifference, after all. The being without a 
competency for reasonably good living I have fre- 
quently lamented, not with thinking of the pleasures 
money would afford but of the embarrassments and 
privations it would free me from. Of course to be 
able to buy a book I want and to be able to visit and 
entertain my friends would be after all pleasures by 
money ; but the pleasure I should have would be from 
the company of the friends, and not the ability to 
entertain them. But the being poorly dressed has 
rarely, under any circumstance, been a source of any 
embarrassment to me; but, on the contrary, has at 
times been a source of great satisfaction. 

" The satisfaction has come from my having in the 
first place very little money to spend for clothes. 
I knew it was either be content with bad ones, or be 
very much cramped — sometimes not even having 
this last alternative. Secondly, my bad clothes have 
been for me a thermometer, as it were, by which I 
have been able to arrive at a more just estimate 
of the characters of various persons I have met. I 
desire the opinion that is held of me to be on account 
of the permanent part of myself and not on account 
of temporary qualities, such as (the good one) of 
being well dressed. That is to say, I want to form 
friends upon whose permanence I could rely under 
any circumstance; and therefore I feel that I must 


gain them by such qualities as circumstances cannot 
affect. Such a quaHty is self-respect, such an one is 
disinterestedness, such is fidelity to friends — and 
all that compose the virtues of a noble and honor- 
able man." 

"I told you that Mr. Fritz had me working on a 
design for some new engines. It is now determined 
to build them, and yesterday the work was fairly 
begun. The first thing to be done is to have wooden 
* patterns' made of all the parts that are to be made 
of cast iron. These wooden patterns are used to 
make the molds in sand in which molten cast iron 
is poured to make the castings. 

"If you are at all interested in such things, I will 
explain something of the different sorts of work neces- 
sary to construct a machine. Most machines are 
composed principally of cast iron and wrought iron. 
Your stove is cast iron. The shovel and tongs are 
probably wrought iron. The first is made by being 
molten and poured in a mold formed in the sand. 
The second is made by a blacksmith. The first is 
called a * casting', and the shop and appurtenances 
where it is made is a * foundry'. The second is a 
'forging' and is made in the * blacksmith shop.' 

"The *molder' (a man who works in the foundry) 
must have a model or * pattern ' of what he intends to 
mold in order to make the impression in the sand. 
This 'pattern' is made of wood and frequently re- 
quires great skill. The pattern for a very orna- 
mental stove would require to be made by a very 
skilled workman. Therefore, to be able to make a 
machine, a * pattern maker' is necessary and a shop 
for him to work in. 


"Neither the blacksmith nor molder can make 
their work look polished and smooth, the one using 
only a hammer and anvil, and the other making his 
mold in such material as sand. Neither can they be 
very accurate. To make all the pieces accurate and 
well fitting, they are given into still another shop — 
the ^machine shop,' where the machinist with lathes 
and planers and drill presses and slotters planes this 
and that side smooth— turns this piece perfectly 
round, drills a hole at this place and that, and files 
and chips and whits away until all the pieces are 
exactly what is wanted, and then the machine is put 

"Thus, the castings commence with the pattern 
maker— then go to the molder and then to the 
machinist. The forgings come from the blacksmith 
shop and go to the machinist, also. With the ma- 
chinist, they are all finished and put together. 

"The parts of the engine I have designed are now 
in the hands of the pattern makers and blacksmiths. 
It is gratifying, because it is the first work of very 
considerable importance I have been given to do. 
They are what are called compound engines and have 
not been much built, so it is a sort of new thing. I 
will not bore you with a scientific explanation of the 
engine unless you show sufficient interest. Some 
of the patterns for the engine are nearly done and 
to-morrow will be carried to the foundry, where the 
molds for the castings are made." 

"My room affords me more and more pleasure with 
each dav. You can't magine what an improvement 


it is over the ordinary house to have a nice room 
with one's own things in it, and it really makes quite 
a homelike sort of place for me. I haven't that 
feeling of living nowhere; and it is particularly de- 
sirable now; for I was forever spoiled in Brooklyn 
about living in boarding houses. Before I came with 
you, I knew nothing better, I was hardened to it. 
And it is wonderful what pleasure I have from the 
auxiliary nice things sent with the furniture." 

" I have invited Walbridge to visit me, and I have 
heard that he intends to accept the invitation very 
soon. Should he do so, the visit will be a great pleas- 
ure to mer and my nice double bed will make me 
able to keep him in my room instead of having to 
send him to the hotel. And to be able to entertain 
him myself will be very nice. I felt mortified when 
Binsse came to see me that I couldn't entertain him 
entirely myself." 

"Walbridge is here visiting me, and I am much 
pleased. Yesterday (Sunday) morning I took him 
to the works, stopping on the way at a little flower 
garden, the owner of which I have made an acquaint- 
ance with." 

"To-day nearly all the officers wanted to go to 
the State and County Fairs holding respectively at 
Easton and Allentown. On such occasions my ad- 
herence to work is always more pleasure to me than 
a country fair could possibly be." 


"You mustn't imagine I am working and overtax- 
ing myself. This voluntary work I have been doing, 
for example, is the working out theoretically what 
was intended to be done practically; and it is there- 
fore of no special use, except that it is pleasant to be 
able to answer questions about the result. It pleases 
Mr. Fritz to see that I am taking an interest in this 
work, and it is easy to keep up an interest in my work 
when I keep it up at the same time as a study." 

I am reading George Eliot's * Silas Marner'." 

"I spent the evening doing some work for Mr. 
Holley. He had written me to send him a drawing 
of a small piece of machinery; and I made the draw- 
ing in the evenings. Extra work I want to do — 
like reading this or that book, getting a drawing 
of this or that to keep for reference — usually fills up 
my evenings. The time seems fairly to fly by." 

"So despicably poor is the iron trade come that 
these works are speaking of making another reduc- 
tion of ten per cent, upon all wages and salaries. This 
is exceedingly disheartening, but to think of giving 
up would be the worst possible thing now. But I 
have foregone all immediate prospects so long that 
it seems sort of hard fortune to have the prospects 
decline in my own path, just as I was beginning 
to reach a fair starting point." 

*' Because I tell you so much I want to be economi- 
cal, do not believe that I love the money or in any 


way love to keep it. I don't expect to become inde- 
pendent by saving money out of my present pay, 
but I must learn the habit of economy now. More- 
over, I do not desire to have money for the purpose 
of keeping it, but for the purpose of using it for com- 
fort's sake." 

"You are to my better self an invaluable mine from 
which jewel after jewel is added to my refinement 
and my feeling and my mode of thought, to make 
them delightful to myself and pleasant to all who 
know me. You are to me what the sun is to a flower, 
that lights it up and makes it beautiful and fragrant. 
My life until I knew you was but as the seedling of a 
flower that could become nothing beautiful so long 
as it remains away from the nourishing light. You 
have already nourished this life and given it suflBcient 
strength to weather quite a stormy night, but it needs 
your goodly rays on the morrow to regain new strength 
and keep it well, alive, and prosperous. And to 
continue our metaphor still further, as the shades 
and tints of a flower can never be seen by any light 
so well as by that which makes it, so the refinement 
you have lent me could never be appreciated so well 
as when I am under your immediate influence." 

"I will go into the drawing office to-morrow. I 
objected to it, but did it principally for appearances, 
since I had as leave stay there three months as not. 
But I did not want them to think I liked it, so they 
would not wonder, when I insist upon having other 
duties after the cold weather is over. Mr. Fritz 
said he wanted me to go and get the plans ready 


for the work for next spring and summer, while it 
was cold and the men cannot work out of doors. 
That seemed to hold out the idea I should have some- 
thing to do with the work when it was commenced 
outside. It is two new furnaces he is building." 

"The coal miners are on a strike and half our 
works are stopped on account of having no coal. Very 
many workmen in this region have no work, and 
many of them go about like vagrants. There is a 
vacant room at the works here, under some furnaces 
(which make it warm), and in this there are tenanted 
about fifty that have collected from the country 
around. They live there and buy what they eat. 
One would imagine them to be a very forlorn and 
and disconsolate looking set, but on the contrary 
there is no crowd more jovial. They make speeches, 
have dances, play cards for imaginary wages, and 
drink imaginary whiskey from imaginary glasses 
with such toasts as, * Here's to the rich man that 
won't give us work — may he get sick on Monday — 
get worse on Tuesday — die on Wednesday — be 

buried on Thursday — go to h on Friday — and 

burn on Saturday.' They are very much the same 
sort of people as the beggars in a city, low, shiftless, 
vulgar, and brutal, who ask for alms with a mean 
scowl on the face. Of course, it is the worst type 
of workman without work." 

"I think if we could get coal, things would really 
begin to brighten up. The coal trouble is attributed 
by some to the operators and by some to the miners; 
but in my mind it is principally due to the fact that 


many of the rich and controlhng men at present are 
not fit to control." 

"I don't like the drawing room (where I am now at 
work). I shall ask Mr. Fritz to change me to some 
sort of other work in the spring, about the first of 
April, and will not stay where I am, even if he makes 
serious objections. I had rather be idle. Not be- 
cause I mind work, but because I don't like sedentary 
and confining occupation. I hoped when I first 
came here he would take some interest in me and ad- 
vance me when he could and advise me what I should 
do to qualify myself for advancement; but I learn he 
has always been close with everyone and will yield 
nothing except what is positively demanded. I am 
not very sorry for this, because after all I had rather 
feel responsible to make an effort myself for what 
I want, than to have to wait for the action of Mr. 
Fritz. If he had taken a positive interest in me 
and shown it, I should not have felt responsible 
and would have left a good deal to him I had 
really rather have in my own hands. Don't under- 
stand that he don't allow me a fair chance. 
He gives me every advantage, but leaves me 
entirely to decide my own course of overcoming 

" The knowledge of a good reward at a certain time 
is one of the greatest stimulants to human energy 
and contentment. For instance, I am willing to soil 
my hands and do a great deal of unpleasant work and 
do it contentedly, too; but my contentment comes 
from the prospect that I shall some day be fixed so 


that the work I do is not only pleasant but fascinat- 
ing and useful." 

"I have been troubled in my dealings with Mr. 
Fritz. I was worried with the way he put me off, 
and when he refused to give me an audience at all, 
it made me exceedingly indignant, but I said nothing, 
of course. Next morning when I arrived at the 
works I found him standing on the office steps and 
when I passed up he said to me, he had not meant 
to give me a short answer the evening before, but 
that his manner was the result of his having been 
much worried during the afternoon. In my own 
mind, the truth of the matter is, he wants to make a 
draftsman of me. If 'tis true, he never undertook 
a more impossible task in his life. I don't know yet 
how I shall go to him again. I could let Mr. Holley 
see him, as he offered to do; but I think Fritz would 
imagine I was afraid of him, and therefore Holley 
shan't do it." 

"I have been trying of late to get together a sort 
of record of my work that I may keep for reference. 
Most of to-day (Sunday) has been employed with 
this work." 

"Most of my work is in connection with the new 
blast furnaces we are putting up. A blast furnace 
is simply a large furnace in which coal, iron ore, and 
limestone are put and kept ignited. The coal is 
put in, to make heat and to melt the iron ore and 
limestone. The limestone does for the pure iron 
contained in the ore what soap and water does for 


the hands; that is, takes up and removes all impurities, 
then the iron, being heaviest, sinks to the bottom 
of the furnace, and the molten limestone, containing 
the impurities, floats on top. Then, by operating a 
hole, in or near the bottom of the furnace, the iron 
runs out. Of course you will understand this to be 
not anything of a scientific explanation, but only just 
something to give you an idea of what a blast furnace 
is. Such a general explanation makes it a very 
simple thing, and in reality there is nothing complex 
about it; but there are a great multiplicity of details 
that bring into requisition a very great number of 
mechanical devices and principles. 

"There must be a blowing engine, to blow air into 
the furnace to make it burn, and pumps, to furnish 
water to keep the parts near the intense heat cool — ■ 
there must be a large stove or oven, through which 
the air must pass to make it hot, so it won't cool the 
material outside — and boilers to generate steam for 
the pumps and engines. All these things are first 
put down on paper, and arranged and re-arranged 
until it is thought to be in the best shape. Then 
wherever any strain or force will come, it is necessary 
to calculate what size to make the part to bear the 
strain. The latter things are the ones I am princi- 
pally engaged in doing. Mr. Fritz tells me he wants a 
certain thing for a certain purpose. Then I go to 
work, and get up an engine on paper, and let him 
look at it." 

"Were you so bored with the engineering letter 
that you dread another.'^ Then you need only write 
me not to write about machinery and grease.'* 


"During the week I have been remarkably social, 
having made two calls upon young ladies. The 
visits were not made with much expectation of en- 
joying myself, but I thought I needed to rouse myself 
from the monotony of working all day and reading 
all evening." 

"I am reading at odd times two books: one is 
Paley's * Evidences of Christianity' and the other, 
Plutarch's * Lives.' I haven't much interest in the 
characters from a historical point of view, but 
Plutarch enters very much into the motives that 
impelled men to action and also in the discipline 
to which many men subjected themselves to accom- 
plish any purpose; and from his accounts in this way 
I can draw many morals and good maxims to govern 
me. Of the biographies as history I don't expect to 
remember much, and don't know what use I would 
have for it if I did." 

"I have been out of doors all day hammering and 
pulling and measuring about some machinery that 
is being put in place. If I could just get enough to 
do outside to occupy me about three fourths of the 
time, so that I would have only a quarter to spend 
at drawing, it would be delightful. And by degrees 
I hope to get it just as I want it." 

"I had resolved upon trying to get Mr. Fritz to 
increase my pay; and to-day a notice was put upon 
the front of the office saying another reduction of 
from 5 to 20 per cent, would be made in all wages 


and salaries the first of Sept. With this excuse to 
put me off I am sure it would be utterly useless to go, 
and would only weaken any future effort. While I 
feel fretful and despondent, I am not despondent in 
thinking of my work. Sadness or disappointment 
does not unman me, as I have seen it do in some in- 
stances. My resolution to push firmly forward, to 
help myself and help others where I can, is always 
firm. Perhaps I may lose some interest for a few 
days, but it comes back, and being of this tempera- 
ment is a great help to going through any disappoint- 

"I have been reading for some time a history of 
the French Revolution, in which I have been much 
interested. When it is finished, I will take up Buckle, 
a liking for whom I already have from the accounts I 
have heard." 

"Almost all my time is spent at the works; and if 
I had an unrestrained license to do anything I 
pleased, 'twould be really fascinating. Every now 
and then I find myself forgetful of ambition and suc- 
cess and suchlike possessions in my interest in some 
work I sometimes find myself engaged in. For 
instance, the furnace, when it was being finished, 
when the gas was being prepared, the dampers put 
in, the valves adjusted, etc., etc., to get everything 
in readiness to make a certain principle operate, — 
makes the principle, itself, fill my mind — and the 
watchfulness to know whether all the conditions are 
fulfilled to make it succeed becomes altogether a 
sort of game or play that holds a man in excitement 


until the time is reached when it is shown whether it 
will or will not work. This furnace was very like 
the old furnaces, so that, if anything had been omitted 
to make it work, there were men about who 
could have explained the difficulty. But it went, 
with very little trouble, and is now working all the 

"Last Sunday I went to Phila. to see the Centen- 
nial buildings, not from curiosity or fashion, but to 
see the manner in which the work on the buildings 
was put together. I could not have seen it 
after the painting and frescoing, etc., etc., were 

"What a long journey life must be for people who 
spend most of it in idleness. I come to this con- 
clusion because of the quickness with which time 
passes when one is engaged. There is always so 
much that I want to do for myself, and I must do 
it in the evenings; and unless I determine beforehand 
what shall be done and in what order — otherwise 
rule out all matters of inclination — I find the time 
passes and nothing is done. I commenced with 
this thought, because it is the one that is in 
my mind and was recommended by the difficulty 
I have in finding time to read the Life of Theo. 

"The Society of Engineers in New York have an 
exhibit of working drawings of machinery in the 
west gallery of the Exhibition, main building. 


Amongst them is a set of drawings of the machinery 
here in the Bessemer Mill that I made while I was 
with Mr. Holley. I made all that are there from 
these works." 

"Iron works must run all the time when they run 
at all; and for a man to be of much available use it 
is necessary to be absent as little as possible, and 
particularly for any one desiring to grow more useful. 
Therefore, because I need the advantages that con- 
tinuous presence here will help me to, and because 
T don't feel the need of a rest, I wouldn't feel that I 
was doing right to take a holiday to-day. (July 4)." 

" The works here jog along about the same. There 
is now one species of comfort, and it is that iron and 
steel are lower in price than they have ever been 
before, and they can't possibly get much lower, so 
the only change must be for the better." 

"I have been for more than ten days strongly 
urging upon Mr. Fritz my desire for other work than 
that of drawing. It has proved so far useless; and 
hearing a few days since of a man in Phila., who in- 
tended to build a new machine shop, I went to that 
city for the purpose of undertaking to get the position 
of running it. I found, however, it was a mistake, 
and that instead of starting a shop, he intended to 
shut up and stop his foundry. 

" While, however, these things are lamentable, they 
do not worry me, for I feel quite sure that the very 
thing that acts as a sort of prejudice in my case is in 


itself a source of strength, and will increase, until 
it brings the matter right some day. There is nat- 
urally a prejudice on the part of practical men to 
have educated men advanced; and since the prac- 
tical men have everything in their hands, the effect 
of this advantage must be felt by the pioneer of 
education, in which position I am unfortunate enough 
to be placed, if it is a misfortune; and since R's 
failure I have all the taunts to carry. 

"Mr. Fritz is away now and has been for a week; 
and in such times there is always more or less an- 
noyance, because he leaves no one definitely in charge 
and all of about ten subordinates vie with each other 
in carrying the air of most authority." 

"I have been very busy in the drawing room all 
day, and feel the need of some exercise. The seden- 
tary character of my work I very much abhor; and 
Mr. Fritz seems as stubborn as a mule in resisting 
any change in it. Not even with an offer to work 
for less will he give me any satisfaction, but avoids 
a decision with a sort of temporary excuse." 

" I have been for a long time wanting to get out of 
the drawing room. Mr. Fritz has always found an 
excuse to keep me from making any change. He 
started last week to Europe. I told him I would 
not stay in the drawing room while he was gone. 
He objected and offered many excuses, etc. He 
knew of nothing he could put me at. I offered to 
work as machinist at machinist's wage. To have 
refused my offer at reduced pay would have been 
too evident perversity; and so he was cornered with 


my being determined to use a desperate remedy 
and bear the consequences. 

I have been now in the shop about ten days, and 
though of course I don't enjoy having less pay, I do 
feel a great satisfaction to have had the strength 
of will to succeed in what I wanted to do, even at a 
sacrifice. I don't know yet what my pay will be, 
but no matter what it will be, I am gaining an ex- 
perience I have felt the need of, and have the pleas- 
ure of feeling that nobody helped me to what I am 
getting, but I had to get it myself and at a sacrifice. 
After dreading to do it, I am surprised to find how 
much pleasure I take in it after it is done. I believe, 
however, that those other people lead the most 
tranquil lives. There is no use in philosophizing, 

"I am now fairly at work in the machine shop and 
like it very much — 

1. Because, although it is harder work in one sense 
of the word, yet it is more in the way of advancement 
than the drawing room is. I never liked the draw- 
ing room. To be in the drawing room (without 
practical experience) is very like being surgeon in 
the army. An energetic private has a better chance 
of continuous advancement. 

2. The work only seems harder, and is really not 
half so hard. It is more healthy, physically and 

3. Because it gives me a foothold where I wanted 
it. They don't tell me what they will do about 
my pay; but that is of the least consequence, since 
when I acquire the practice I am working for I 
will be much better qualified for the place Mr. 


Holle}^ offered me at Troy, which I could get at 
any time. 

"Mr. Holley and Mr. Fritz are both in Europe." 

"I am working in the machine shop on a roll lathe 
— turning the rolls through which the hot iron passes 
in the mills, to make it in the shape of rails. I like 
the work, and do not find it arduous or particularly 
tiresome. My pay is put at $2 per day, quite as 
much as I expected. I am more than satisfied that 
it is a good thing for me to do, and that I shall be 
well repaid in the end. The pay is quite sufficient 
for me to live on. 

"I have just learned that it was a matter of a hair's 
weight one way or the other with the higher officers 
of the Company whether I should go to Europe with 
Mr. Fritz or not. I am told he was anxious to have 
me go with him as private secretary. I am not sorry 
for having missed it; for in doing so I am now laying 
in a store of experience I always felt would be neces- 
sary before I could fairly enter the path I desired 
to beat; and it has always been an annoying thing 
to feel that the sacrifice, as it were, was yet before 

"I feel more and more satisfied with myself for 
having made the change of my work into the shop. 
Mr. Fritz is back again; but I have no idea what his 
state of mind is in regard to the matter, since he does 
not now even deign to speak to me. This neither 
disconcerts nor discourages me, however; for when 
I took the step in opposition to his advice and wishes 
I knew he would not heed any of those scruples of 


conscience which might influence other men. But 
he had, on the other hand, done nothing positive in 
showing his displeasure, and is therefore open to 
adopt any course or opinion of me that my work 
may justify." 

"I am convinced more every day of the wisdom 
of my going into the shop. This place is considered 
a good one to come from; but I am afraid it is not a 
very good one to stay at, provided advancement is 
the desire of a young man. Therefore, I am sure 
I have done right in giving my time to those pur- 
suits that will give me strength and invest me with 
the capability to justify at another place what would 
be expected of a Bethlehem man." 



DURING the years of his apprenticeship at 
Bethlehem, Tompkins was laying founda- 
tions for larger things, saving money, mak- 
ing investments, projecting enterprises, measuring 
his employers, looking beyond the mill. The second 
year of his apprenticeship he formed a partnership 
with a young merchant in Edgefield, S. C, for the sale 
of cotton ties, and invented a buckle to improve 
the tie. The ties and buckles were made by Tomp- 
kins in Bethlehem and shipped to his partner for sale 
in South Carolina. His surplus wages from the 
iron mill were invested regularly in building and 
loan stock. He soon became a director in the Build- 
ing and Loan Association; and, finding that it was 
badly managed, he threw it into bankruptcy, bought 
up the stock, and organized a new association, of 
which he was secretary and general manager. With 
fellow workmen he organized a cooperative company 
for buying land and building houses. This enter- 
prise, however, was not perfected nor well developed 
before he left Bethlehem. He made investments 
in railway stock. He built a residence on one of his 
lots in Bethlehem; and retained ownership of it until 
his death. 

In the midst of these varied activities he kept up 
his work in the mill, and nourished a lively ambition 



for promotion. He longed to be an iron master like 
John Fritz — to build in the South a Bethlehem Iron 
Works. His non -promotion in the mills was a keen 
disappointment, which he bore with a brave spirit 
of patience and a clear consciousness of merit. He 
wrote to John Fritz the following letter, a model of 
dignified, manly, and modest appeal and remon- 
strance : 

"In behalf of a matter which seems to be of great 
concern to me, I wish to call your attention concisely 
to the following facts: My earnest desire, whilst I 
have been here, has been to get into practical work. 
Whenever I have spoken of this matter, the tendency 
of your replies has seemed to have been that you 
would keep the matter in your mind, etc. I am 
impatient now of nothing else than that after four 
years (within six wrecks) I am as much in the dark 
as to the possibility of such a change as I desire as at 
the beginning of that time. To continue in the same 
way, with no further knowledge of your disposition 
in the matter, might lead me to the end of four more 
years with the same result. 

"If it is impossible to gain confidence in my ability 
to conduct practical work by other means than begin- 
ning anew, it is essential to me that I should know 
it; for to wait much longer will put me beyond that 
period of life at which that can be done without great 
sacrifice. In the time that I have been here, I have 
done more practical work than is often found to be 
done by men in the same position, yet, withal, my 
present position has a constant tendency to constrain 
me from the way of it, and in itself gives no advance- 
ment, my pay having been $2.00 per day when I took 
it, and being now $2.87. With the large increase in 
machinery to be taken care of and the attention this 


will require of someone, it seems to me now that it 
would be easily practicable for you so to arrange the 
distribution of the work as to give me the oppor- 
tunity to enter into that system of habits I 
desire to improve, even if I continue to do the 
drawing at the same time, which I am perfectly 
willing to do. 

"I have heard you speak of having requested and 
been granted changes of work in your early life upon 
the same ground as that upon which I now place 
my request. A matter which I mention only to ask 
you to remember how important they were to you 
at that time, and that this request of mine has the 
same importance to me now, and is specially import- 
ant as being a part of a definite plan of life I have laid 
out to follow. 

"I have omitted any reference to the changes that 
have taken place, nor have I made any comparisons 
of the merit or pay, nor referred in any way to the 
large bit of minor matters to which I might call your 
attention to my advantage, and have refrained from 
putting anything forward before you, except that 
the time is come beyond which such a change as I de- 
sire to make becomes more and more diflficult to me, 
and cannot but fail to be of that advantage to me 
as if made whilst I am yet young enough to take a 
hand in all those duties of machine construction and 
repair so essentially necessary to make me usefnl to 
myself and a creditable pupil of yours. 

"I have made my desire, as expressed above, as 
simple as possible; and I ask as a favor a plain 
answer as to its accomplishment, assuring you that I 
am (for my own good) as anxious to advance your 
interest as mine." 

This letter caused no breach between them, for 


they were genuine friends at heart. In disposition 
and character they much resembled each other. 
Clashes between them, though hard and obstinate, 
never struck fire. Their correspondence in after 
life continued through all the years, and was marked 
not only by mutual admiration and esteem but by 
deep affection. Fritz was constantly asking Tomp- 
kins' advice about the education of his nephew; 
and Tompkins was always sending Fritz affectionate 
greetings and tokens. WTien Fritz's eightieth birth- 
day was celebrated, twenty years later, at the Wal- 
dorf-Astoria in New York City by the four great 
American Societies of Engineers, Tompkins was se- 
lected among all the men whom Fritz had trained to 
make response at the banquet to the toast, "John 
Fritz's Old Boys." 

Tompkins was tied to the Bethlehem Mills for 
several years by an overmastering ambition to fit 
himself thoroughly for the career of an iron master 
as well as by a pleasant consciousness of being almost 
indispensable to John Fritz. There was no place 
in the mills, as then organized, for the full exercise 
of his talents; and mill expansion at that time was 
prevented by financial and industrial depression. 

Opportunity came for engineering work and expe- 
rience elsewhere. Newly invented machinery for 
rolling hoops was to be installed in the Schwerte Iron 
Works in Westphalia, Germany. The American 
manufacturers, B. Lauth & Son of Philadelphia, 
applied to Fritz for his most eflficient, reliable, and in- 
telligent machinist to go to Germany, set up the 
machinery, and train the German workmen to run 
it. The commission was offered to Tompkins and 
accepted. Without knowledge of the German lan- 
guage or acquaintance with the German people he 


did the work successfully amid great trials and per- 
plexing difficulties. 

A few extracts from letters to his beloved will make 
a picture of his life during this trip abroad. 

"I have spent a week in Philadelphia seeing the 
hoop mill packed to be sent to Germany." 

" With a very few exceptions the passengers on this 
ship are German, or at least German-speaking people, 
and although they all speak English, yet German 
like, they stick almost entirely to German in conver- 
sation. It is called by those who have crossed more 
than once an unsociable gathering of passengers. 
Still, it is marvelous how well we come to know one 
another's habits even though the knowledge of names 
is not so common. Sunday after leaving New York 
I was a little sick — just annoyingly sick. I would 
feel comfortable enough on deck, or even in my state- 
room, but at the table would soon begin to get uneasy 
about the stomach, and to perspire about the fore- 
head, and have to leave. It was while I waited for 
the steward to fetch what I ordered that I would 
get sick. Finally, I ordered a good meal put at my 
plate, and stayed on deck till it was done. Then I 
went down and fairly crammed myself full, and hurry- 
ing back on deck found the sailors hoisting a sail, 
and I took hold with them and tugged away with 
the best; and that was practically the last of my sick- 
ness. A N. Y. swell tried the same remedy, but with 
less success, in as much as he skinned his hands on 
the rope and was sicker than before. The way wine 
is drunk is a marvel to a temperate American. The 


most inoffensive and harmless-looking men will drink 
a full bottle of claret at every meal. My vis-a-vis 
at table declares himself satisfied with one glass of 
sherry, one of port, and two bottles of claret. He is a 
braggart, however, I think. It seemed very queer 
to see German ladies, sick and trying to eat at table, 
turn pale with sickness trying to eat a little, then 
turn and drink off a glass of beer to keep the stomach 

"I am now in Schwerte, having been here probably 
six hours. It is Sunday. Mr. Krieger, the super- 
intendent of the works, took me this p. m. to drive. 
We went to several towns adjacent. To-morrow I 
go to the works. 

"I reached Bremen yesterday morning at 10:30, 
spending the day and night there. During the day 
I strolled about and looked at the town, which is very 
attractive. In the evening I went to hear some 
music, Bilse Orchestra. I learned afterward that 
I had heard the orchestra of a man who excels Th. 
Thomas — in fact, the best orchestra in the world. 
Even to me, who understand little of music, it 
seemed superior, and that before I knew the man's 

"This morning I spent in Cologne enjoying the 
Cathedral, the grand sight of the city. Six hundred 
years it has been building, and will be finished next 
year. As Bilse is superior to Thomas, so that cathe- 
dral service was far superior to anything I have ever 
heard in America. Innumerable men loaf about 
the front and want to show strangers the church for 
anything that will be given. 

"Schwerte is a small town and the hotel I am at is 


not good, but is the best in the place. But mean 
little hotel as it is, the clerk wears a dress suit." 

"I am now keeping the hours of German workmen. 
The machine is in running order and for the last ten 
days I have been with one set of the men who will run 
it Next week I must take the other set and in- 
struct them, and then in the succeeding week we will 
run the machine night and day with the two sets of 
men I get up at 5i a. m. and get back home at 1^ 
P M. The first few days I had to do everythmg 
myself As a rule, Germans are hard workers and 
willing workers, but not particularly bright about 
comprehending a new idea. Of course, m this chaotic 
state of beginning I cannot say how long I must be 

"These people wish to use the machinery I brought 
over for a great variety of work; and to adapt it to 
this purpose has required of me a great deal of work. 
And because I do not understand the language, I 
must do a great deal that the workmen ought 

"The town is a dull little place, and now that all 
the novelty of the place is past it is rather a bore. 

"The German working hours annoy me much. 
The people are like the Germans in America. They 
are never done working and never get anythmg done 
—they spend thirteen hours at the works and do less 
than an American in three hours. 

"But I shall soon be done now and will see you 
agam. The Lauths say they will build one of these 
machines to make band iron in Alabama and have 


promised to give me charge of it. If all goes well, 
then we will be at last all right, Httle girl." 

"In Germany and in Schwerte I have seen many 
things that pleased me, but taken all in all I shall not 
be sorry to turn my footsteps homeward. I shall, 
however, always look forward to another trip to this 
country when I can have time enough and leisure 
enough to learn to speak the language. 

"I now go to the works at 6 a. m. and come home at 
7 p. M. As the men become used to my machine 
these hours will become less." 

"During the week just past I have been very busy 
finishing a vast number of small details necessary to 
try the mill, I have made one experimental trial and 
it went well. I am now still further completing the 
details, which will require ten days or so. But next 
week the iron works will not run on account of want- 
ing to make general repairs, and in that interim I will 
make a little trip on the Rhine." 

"I have just returned from up the Rhine, making 
the trip with Thurston and his wife who were passing 
this way. I have taken advantage of every oppor- 
tunity to see the towns around here and think I 
shall not have a desire to travel much when I leave. 
My present idea is to see Paris and London a day or 
two each, and perhaps one or two little excursions 
in France and England. 

*'My trip to Germany pleases me very much and I 
beUeve will have been just such a one as I could 


most have desired. I have lived here, and it now 
has to me the same familiar air that Troy and 
Bethlehem will always hereafter have to me. I was 
glad to meet the Thurston s, and spent a very pleasant 
day with them in Cologne and another on the 

"I have had much to do here, and some of my work 
has been hard and tiresome. But I have learned 
much also, and have had the opportunity to pick up 
much valuable information. 

"I am a very poor student in the matter of German 
and cannot yet speak it at all." 

" They have a man here who is always with me and 
he now has a very good idea of the machine. But he 
is, as is the rule of Germans, sometimes stubborn 
and sometimes stupidly stubborn, as only Germans 
can be. 

"Mr. Lauth had represented to these people that 
the machine (which is a new invention) was able to 
do much more than has been heretofore possible. I 
have had to make many experiments and improve 
it in many respects to make it fulfill their require- 

"The director of the company, a Mr. Dickerhoff, 
has been extremely kind and liberal in his bearing 
toward me, but some of the subordinate officers 
have annoyed me very much with telling lies. I have 
not deigned to take the least notice of them, but will 
review these things when I make my final report. 


Mr. Dickerhoff 's uniform civility and patience makes 
me admire him very much." 

"Here it is October, and I never dreamed of being 
here later than September 1st. The work has been 
done exceedingly slow. Work here is always done 
with a good deal of fuss, while very little is done. In 
fact, the main object in life with these people is com- 
fort and uniform comfort. They eat and drink 
from morning till night. They have more working 
hours, but lose so much time during work eating and 
drinking, that I am sure they do not half the work 
that an American would do in shorter hours. I 
thought this wasting of time was only amongst the 
workmen; but a few days since I had some drawing 
to do, and fixed up a board in a vacant room near by, 
and I was surprised to find that each clerk had a 
bottle of beer stuck in some hole in the room; and 
would slip in once or twice during the morning and 
drink a glass of beer and eat sandwiches. The head 
clerk himself w^as one of the crowd. Funny to see 
the bold face some of them would put on and 
the celerity with which they would slip the bottle 
in its hole when they heard footsteps. But while 
these things seem small, there are probably other 
ways in which the workmen are better than ours. 
The general manager is an excellent man." 

"I have been making a little trip through some of 
the important German cities, leaving the machine 
in the hands of the workmen. Although I have 
seen much that is interesting on this trip it has been 
a sort of bore. I am coming more and more to find 


no interest even in the most interesting things, unless 
I can have some company that would be interested 
with me. Leipzig, where I now am, is a great uni- 
versity town, as you probably know already, and is 
the publishing place for Germany and in fact, largely 
for Europe. The Tauchnitz edition of books is pub- 
lished here." 

"I am disappointed in Paris. All its finery and 
gorgeousness etc., etc., with a few exceptions, are 
of the ballet type. 'Tis unquestionably the city 
of vice, but vice without the coarseness it has m 
other cities. Of course I am often cheated, m con- 
sequence of not being able to speak French." 

"Since my arrival in London I have done nothing 
but order some clothes. My passage across the 
Channel made me very sick and I have slept nearly 
all day. I go to-morrow to Manchester to see ma- 
chinery, etc., and hope to sail the next day. In 
my anxiety to get off home I am almost constrained 
to leave undone things for which I know I should be 
afterward sorry." 

His trip was now ended. The work he had un- 
dertaken was very difficult, but he went at it bravely 
and put it through. He had learned much of life, 
had seen the Old World, and was glad to be back in 

An incident of his work in Germany was described 
by Tompkins twenty-five years later. It illustrates 


his resourcefulness and skill as a workman at that 
early period and his tenacious memory in later years 
of events long past. The incident had not impressed 
him at the time as worth relating. 


"Sometimes an incident which seems insignificant 
has a touch of something which particularly appeals 
to humanity, while again some of our best efforts 
seem to fall flat in the presence of humanity. 

"While I was in Germany setting up machinery 
for the Bethlehem Iron Company, or in which the 
Bethlehem Iron Company had patent interest, a little 
incident occurred upon which I laid no stress what- 
ever and which in reality was a very small matter, 
and yet the story of it seems to have travelled the 
world over. As all stories do when they travel, this 
one has been magnified, but the sentimental feature 
has always remained in it. 

"There was a big engine in the rolling mill in which 
I was working which operated considerable of the 
machinery in the mill. It was probably an engine 
of 1,000 or 2,000 H. P., possibly more. It was set 
up on a cut stone foundation. The foundation was 
about 10 feet deep, and there was a surrounding wall 
built to make a space down to the bottom of the 
foundation. The foundation bolts went through 
lugs on the two plates, then down through a hole 
which was about 4 inches round drilled into the stone. 
At the bottom there was a pocket through which 
the nut, or key, at the bottom of the bolt could be 
put in place. These foundation bolts were 8 or 10 
feet long and 2| or 3 inches in diameter. One day 
one of them broke about the middle. The engine 


was a heavy one, and they were afraid to run it 
without this bolt. The top end, of course, was easily 
pulled out. The construction of the foundation 
with the pocket at the bottom had been made in a 
way to get the nut out easily, but when it came to 
lifting the 4 or 5 feet of 2j inch metal out of the hole, 
everybody was balked. Attempts were made to 
shove it up from below by putting short pieces of 
metal under it one after another, but they never 
could get it up more than one or two pieces of the 
metal high. They fished for it from above with 
nooses made of wire, they tried to make long-handled 
tongs to reach it from the top, but they could not 
make these hold. The management was getting im- 
patient and intolerant. The general manager rarely 
came into the mill, but he finally came to take a look 
at a trouble which had already kept the mill standing 
a day, causing a large number of men to be thrown 
out of employment. Coming by my mill, which 
was running, the manager chatted pleasantly, telling 
me about the difficulty they were having with the 
big engine. He started over toward it, but turned 
and came back to where I was working, and asked 
me to give my tongs to the helper and come and 
see if I could not suggest some way to get the bolt 
out of the hole. I told him he had good men there 
already, but he insisted, and I went over. When 
I got there, a happy idea came quickly to my mind. 
I asked if they had the top end of the bolt which 
they had already pulled out; they answered *Yes,' 
and I told them then to get a piece of ^ inch pipe 
and bring the top piece of the bolt and the pipe 
to the blacksmith shop. I heated the pipe, belled 
out the end of it a little, swaged it a little to make 
it a little too small to go on the bolt. Then every- 


body saw what was going to be done. I took the 
pipe into the mill, stuck the end of it in a heating fur- 
nace, called for a bucket of water, let the pipe down 
through the hole, and drove it hard over the end of 
the bolt, then I poured the bucket of water on it. 
The shrinkage clamped the pipe so tightly on to the 
bolt that after the two had been pulled up together 
they could not be separated except by splitting the 
pipe. The thing that seemed to me at that time of 
more consequence than the operation was the prompt 
assumption of the credit of the whole thing by the 
general manager. He did not undertake to take any 
credit away from me, but he said and repeated and 
re-repeated that everybody was most stupid not to 
have gone for the American immediately; that he 
really believed, if he had not come out and thought 
of the American himself, that none of them ever 
would have thought about him. He said that 
everybody knew an American could do anything, 
and thought it was a strange thing that they 
wasted so much time, when an American was so 

"The story got into the papers in a maudlin sort 
of way, and it seemed to make a catchy story. It 
came to this country, and was circulated in the 
Northern States, where manufacturing at that time 
was mostly done. One paper had it that it had be- 
come necessary to get one of the anchorage bolts 
of the Brooklyn Bridge out of the foundation, and 
that I had done it, and got $10,000 for it, although 
it was only a few minutes' work. Of course this 
was a version made by the writer, to make the 
story more interesting and to make it locally 

"On a recent trip to New York a gentleman in the 


Waldorf-Astoria Hotel remarked that he had just 
heard a story about me, and related the story based 
upon the above incident. Thus after so many years 
the story seems to circulate, because people seem 
to like something about it which I don't see." 





ON HIS return from Germany Tompkins was 
strongly tempted to remain in Bethlehem. 
Absence had intensified his popularity and 
magnified his usefulness. His return was a signal 
for universal manifestations of regard. The City 
Council chose him as a Burgess to fill a vacancy, 
the Democratic Club elected him President, Fritz 
urged him to accept his old position in the mills. 
To others his prospects seemed bright and full of 
promise, but not to him; for he felt within himself 
longings that could not be satisfied and powers that 
could not be developed in Bethlehem. His heart 
was in the South. Memories of early life, family 
love, devotion to the land of his birth, had been 
strengthened and intensified by absence and by 
work in new industries. His feelings were not dis- 
played in public but were known to liis intimate 
friends. "He was with all his heart devoted to the 
South," writes H. B. Binsse, a collegemate and fellow 
worker, "and from the first wished to work and live 
there. While at Bethlehem he determined to de- 
vote his life to development of the South, and he con- 
sistently aimed in that direction. He was offered 
to my knowledge an excellent position in Chicago, 
which he refused for this reason.'' 


As soon as it was known that Tompkins would 
leave Bethlehem, offers of employment came to him 
from all quarters, from Holley and the Lauths, from 
former collegemates at the institute, from manufac- 
turing establishments in Philadelphia and Chicago, 
from engineering enterprises in Tennessee, Alabama, 
Kansas, and INIissouri. Everybody that knew him 
was desiring his services or recommending him to 
others. It is significant of his deep though silent 
emotional nature that he carefully filed and pre- 
served until his death all the correspondence of this 
period, precious testimony to the high esteem which 
had been earned by his life and work in Troy and 

Resisting all temptations to live and work in the 
North, Tompkins now devoted himself for a year 
to the study of Southern industrial history and the 
inspection of Southern industrial conditions. He 
visited all the centres of new industrial activities 
in the South and carefully studied local conditions. 
Fifteen years before he had gone North to college 
with despondent feelings about the future of the 
South. He shared the prevailing belief that South- 
ern industrial inferiority was the natural result of 
climate, a belief which was not likely to be changed 
by residence in the North and work in Northern 
mills and shops and factories. Among thousands 
of Southern youths who after the Civil War sought 
education or employment or professional careers in 
Northern States, few returned to their native land. 
They saw everywhere in the North increasing wealth 
and power, while the stricken and impoverished 
South offered a vision of perpetual poverty. 

But the clearer insight of Tompkins looked through 
this dismal prospect, and discovered in the earlier 


history of the South an industrial development which 
gave hope not only of future revival but possibly 
of greater expansion. His study of Southern in- 
dustrial conditions filled him with enthusiasm. 

"When I left South Carolina to go North," said he, 
"I thought I was leaving a country which had never 
had any important manufactures. Later, when I 
was in the middle of industrial life in the North, I 
conceived the idea of writing an industrial history 
of the United States. To my amazement I found 
that the agricultural South, from which I had come 
in a spirit of industrial despair, was the cradle of 
manufactures in the United States. 

"The industrial development of the South was as 
much advanced a hundred years ago as that of any 
other part of the Union. The census of 1810 shows 
that the manufactured products of Virginia, the 
Carolinas, and Georgia exceeded in variety and value 
those of all the New England States taken together. 
There were more homespun cotton manufactures 
in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia than in the 
thirteen other states and territories; more flax in 
Virginia than in any other state. Prior to 1812 
Southern manufactures were in the line of household 
arts. These manufactures were generalized and 
dispersed, not localized and integrated; the aggregate 
was considerable. 

"In the Piedmont region of the Carolinas many 
charcoal blast furnaces were in operation a century 
ago. Cotton mills now operated by water power 
are on sites which were formerly occupied by Catlin 
forges, rolling mills, cotton factories, and other manu- 
facturing plants. At these forges and rolling mills 
were made bars, nails, plow^shares, and other products. 
One product was a special metal for rifle barrels. 


There were notable gunmakers in the Piedmont 
region in the time of these forges and rolling mills; 
and they required an extra good quality of metal 
for their rifles. These gun-makers supplied to the 
home people and to the frontiersmen of Tennessee 
and Kentucky most of the rifles which played such 
a part in frontier life, and were such a factor in the 
early development of American civilization. I have 
seen a copy of a contract in accordance with which 
the entire machinery equipment for a cotton mill 
was constructed in a machine shop at Lincolnton, 
N. C, in 1813. 

"When the Union was formed and a nation was 
organized, the order of the states in population and 
wealth was, Virginia first, Pennsylvania second. 
North Carolina third. In enterprise and develop 
ment the South surpassed all other parts of the 
Union. The institution of slavery changed the rela- 
tive position of North and South, the institution of 
slavery — not the negro — but the institution. The 
negro has never been in the way of industrial prog- 
ress as much as the Indian was originally. But 
the institution of slavery had a tremendous adverse 
influence; and this would have been the same if the 
slaves had been white instead of colored. 

"The Southern States prospered before slavery 
became the dominant influence. The prosperity 
before that time was a prosperity of manufactures, 
commerce, and agriculture. As slavery grew in 
importance and influence, manufactures and com- 
merce declined. The invention of the cotton gin 
emphasized the importance and profit of cotton 
culture with slave labor. The South became a 
country exclusively devoted to the production of 
staple crops: tobacco, rice, cotton, and sugar — all 


with slave labor. The free white mechanics were 
driven to the Northwest. My own grandfather 
owned and operated a carriage factory, which, for 
lack of white mechanics, he finally abandoned in 
favor of cotton production with negro slave labor. 

"Those who advocated slavery were interested in 
the extension of the system to the Southwest. The 
system founded upon agriculture with slave labor 
alone necessarily fell. From the time that slavery 
became the dominant influence the South made 
very little progress. From 1830 to 1860 South 
Carolina and North Carolina practically stood still ; 
then wealth fell into the hands of fewer people, 
general development ceased, resources were neg- 
lected, migration was large and constant both to the 
central Northwest by white laborers and to the 
Southwest by slave owners with their slaves. As 
far as the character of the people and the resources 
of the country were concerned, the industrial prog- 
ress of the Piedmont Carolinas should have been 
parallel with that of Pennsylvania." 

That the South was capable of industrial develop- 
ment was shown by its industrial activity during 
the Civil War. Cut off from the outside world and 
stirred by the stimulus of a great war it exhibited 
mechanical skill and inventions of a high order, great 
in number, variety, ingenuity, and utility. Every 
plantation, every farm, almost every cabin became 
a mill, a factory, or a little workshop. By the close 
of the war the South was producing not only its 
food supplies, clothing, house furnishings, farming 
tools, and machinery but also its military and naval 
weapons and equipment. The rebel ram was the 
forerunner of the modern battle ship. The subma- 
rine was a rebel invention. 


But at the end of the war the high price of cotton 
and the ease of cotton culture again diverted the 
energies of the South from manufactures, and concen- 
trated them almost with magical quickness upon 
the sole business of cotton growing. Homespun 
industries, recently nourished by the necessities of 
war, now decayed like mushrooms. Forges, car- 
penter shops, tanneries, and the like small industries 
formerly existing on large plantations, were now in 
ruins, abandoned for cotton fields. Looms and 
spindles, recently humming in every cabin, were now 
idle rubbish, except in the cabins of poor whites 
where they lingered obstinately for another genera- 
tion. Even long-established agricultural industries 
fell into neglect and contempt. Horses and cattle, 
hogs and sheep, hay and oats, commeal and flour 
were no longer regarded as necessary products of the 
plantation. Nothing was grown on the plantation 
that could be purchased elsewhere. A big crop of 
cotton would buy whatever was needed. If the 
sale of the crop at the end of the year failed to pay 
the store accounts, it would at least start a new 
credit for the new year. Cotton was king — white 
cotton, shining in the big white fields. 

The passion for raising cotton became almost a 
craze. Its victims were not only the big planters 
but small farmers, poor white tenants, and ragged 
negro hirelings. Everything else was imported 
from the North: food, clothing, tools, machinery, 
horses, hay, oats, pork, beef, flour, meal, cheese, 
butter, condensed milk, even fried potatoes, in boxes 
and barrels, cooked and ready for the table. Com- 
mission merchants in the cities and retail merchants 
in the towns held in mortgage practically the entire 
South. Interest, compounded and recompounded. 


rolled up an ever-increasing aggregrate of debt. 
Everybody was staggering under the load; and every- 
body^ kept on raising cotton — enormous crops of 
cotton, increasing in size but not in value. Prices 
were falling below the cost of production. 

Amid the general feeling of despair and the im- 
minence of bankruptcy there was a saving sense of 
humor. People smiled at their own follies and mis- 
fortunes. Popular orators and writers burlesqued 
the prevailing industrial madness; and with fine 
humor sought to laugh the South into industrial 
sanity. The eloquent Grady pictured this folly in 
his description of a Georgia funeral. The descrip- 
tion was so pleasing to Tompkins that it became a 
part of his mental furniture, and he never failed to 
quote it when occasion permitted. Said Grady: 

"I attended a funeral once in Pickens County, 
Georgia. It was a poor *one gallus' fellow. They 
buried him in the midst of a marble quarry; they cut 
through solid marble to make his grave; and yet a 
little tombstone they put above him was from Ver- 
mont. They buried him in the heart of a pine forest, 
and the pine coffin was imported from Cincinnati. 
They buried him within touch of an iron mine, and 
yet the nails in his coffin and the iron in the shovel 
that dug his grave were imported from Pittsburgh. 
They buried him by the side of the best sheep-grazing 
country on the earth, and yet the wool in the coffin 
bands and the coffin bands themselves were imported 
from the North. The South didn't furnish a thing 
on earth for that funeral but tlie corpse and the hole 
in the ground. There they put him away, and the 
clods rattled down on his coffin, and they buried him 
in a New York coat and a Boston pair of shoes and 
a pair of breeches from Chicago and a shirt from 


Cincinnati, leaving him nothing to carry into the 
next world with him, to remind him of the country 
in which he lived and for which he fought four years, 
but the chill of blood in his veins and the marrow in 
his bones." 

Southern literature of the period just before and 
just after the Civil War abounds in similar pictures 
and similar appeals to Southern interest and South- 
ern pride. Henry A. Wise of Virginia, Cassius M. 
Clay of Kentucky, Hinton R. Helper of North 
Carolina were zealous and unceasing in efforts to 
stem the torrent of cotton madness. One of the 
wisest, thriftiest, and most prudent planters of North 
Carolina, the Hon. Paul C. Cameron, of Orange 
County, made an earnest appeal to his fellow farmers 
for reform in industrial aims and methods: "I know 
not when I have been more humiliated, as a North 
Carolina farmer, than when a few weeks ago at a 
railroad depot, at the very doors of our state capitol, 
I saw wagons drawn by Kentucky mules laden with 
Northern hay, for the supply not only of the town, 
but to be taken to the country. Such a sight at 
the capitol of a state whose population is almost ex- 
clusively devoted to agriculture is a most humiliat- 
ing exhibition. Let us cease to use everything, so far 
as practicable, that is not the product of our own soil 
and workshops — not an axe, nor a broom, nor bucket 
from Connecticut. By every consideration of self- 
preservation we are called to make better efforts 
to expel the Northern grocer from the state with his 
butter, and the Ohio and Kentucky horse, mule, and 
hog drover — from our county at least.'* 

In the midst of this industrial depression, when 
cotton culture seemed likely to ruin the South, 
Tompkins decided, after a careful survey of the 


Southern industrial field, to devote his life to the 
promotion of cotton manufacturing industries and 
the diversification of Southern agriculture. On 
March 31, 1882, he located in Charlotte, North 
Carolina, the centre of the Carolina Piedmont region, 
and hung out his sign : 





THE selection of Charlotte as his home and 
the base of his industrial operations was 
eminently wise and fortunate. There is no 
region in the Southern States better adapted to manu- 
facturing industries than the Carolina Piedmont. Its 
water power is large and constant. The annual rain- 
fall is more than sixty inches. " No other area on this 
continent," says Professor Shaler, "contams as 
numerous streams of constant flow." The elevation 
ranges from 500 to 1,000 feet, moderating the heat 
of summer, while the latitude produces mild and 
equable winters. Its varied scenery presents to the 
eye one of the fairest sights in America. 

The population of the Carolina Piedmont is mamly 
of English, German, and Scotch-Irish stock, a hardy, 
self-reliant, and liberty-loving folk. WTiile very 
conservative and slow to change, clmgmg tenaciously 
to ideals and institutions inherited from their an- 
cestors, they are not dull nor indifferent to the logic 
of events, but observant, intelligent, and quick- 
witted. This population is less affected by immigra- 
tion than any other of similar size in the United 
States. It is almost entirely native, less than one 
per cent, being foreign born. 

The soil and climate of the Piedmont district 
are well-adapted to small grams, fruits, clover. 



grasses, cattle, and poultry. At this period, however, 
the chief industry was the culture of cotton and to- 
bacco. Adjacent to the Piedmont district on the 
east is the Atlantic Coastal Plain, devoted at that 
time exclusively to cotton culture. On the west 
is the vast Appalachian mountain region, peopled 
by the same sturdy stock, as yet scarcely connected 
with the outside world, and by long isolation from 
it kept in a backward state of primitive and anti- 
quated agriculture. This mountain population sup- 
plied an overflowing reservoir of strong and sturdy 
humanity, ready for migration and employment 

To the centre of this great Piedmont region and 
into the midst of its strong, sturdy, and as yet un- 
progressive population came D. A. Tompkins, in- 
dustrial missionary and apostle of the New South. 
He entered upon his work with a kit of tools, a brave 
and honest heart, a firm faith in himself and in the 
future of the South. 

"When I went to Charlotte," he wrote in his 
memoirs, *'I asked nobody any favors. I was a 
machinist. I looked out for my own work, did 
each job that came my way the best I could, and 
this was generally better than my customer or 
employer expected — kept at work, and kept 

"Whenever opportunity presented, I endeavored 
to point out the future possibilities of Charlotte 
and the South generally. All I ever said about those 
possibilities has come true and been exceeded. 

"In 1882 I advocated building a cottonseed oil 
mill. In 1884 I advocated building cotton mills. 
My 'optimistic talk' met with little or no favor. 
Meanwhile, I always kept at work." 


WTiile slight attention was paid to Tompkins' 
optimistic talk, there were many who observed his 
work. His reputation for skill, honesty, and effi- 
ciency grew rapidly, extending beyond the limits of 
the city and county. His circle of friends and patrons 
was steadily enlarging. His friends in the North 
were watching his career. They believed that a new 
force was entering the industrial life of the South. 
The Westinghouse Comp any of Pittsburgh offer ed 
ItLm tht^ aM'<^liOV tor the sal e of the West inghouse 
engme!^ Tlifii uITti was aiiCepted, for it fitted in with 
"Bis purpose to engage in the sale of power-producing 
and power-economizing machinery: engines, boilers, 
gins, compresses, saw-mills, and the like. The agency 
gave promise of growth, but success w^as not easy; 
for prejudice, ignorance, and stubborn conservatism 
stood always in his path. He entered at once upon 
extensive correspondence, seeking customers through- 
out the Carolinas and adjacent states. He adver- 
tised freely by circulars and newspapers, and travelled 
extensively. Extracts from his diary and from 
letters to relatives show that he was not idle nor de- 
spondent nor asleep to opportunities, but always full 
of hopeful philosophy, observing character and study- 
ing industrial conditions. 

"I am just back from a trip trying to make con- 
tract to put in a 40 H. P. engine for some parties up 
the country. After the most earnest effort I did not 
get the contract; and it seems really hard. I offered 
to put in the whole thing much cheaper than any one 
else, and yet lost the contract. I don't think this 
signifies any serious lack of confidence in me or in my 
machine, but is only the difficulty of a new man and 
a new house and a new engine." 


"To-morrow I will go to Shelby, 50 miles west of 
here, and then about 25 miles farther on horseback 
to see a man who wants an engine. After that I 
will return, and then go to Yorkville in South Caro- 
lina, and then I will return, and will then go to Ander- 
son and Newberry in South Carolina. If I once get 
on my feet here, I will not have this running about to 
do, but will get a man to do it, and I will stay 
in Charlotte, except perhaps for a very occasional 

"A great deal of interest is excited in my engine; 
but every purchaser wants someone else to try it 
first. I have ordered a small one sent from Pitts- 
burgh ; and I shall put it up in the gas works, and let 
it do their work, just to show that it will do what 
we represent." 

"The other machine companies are doing every- 
thing they can to keep me out of contracts; and, al- 
though I bid lower than any of them on this last 
contract, they put their bids right down to my 
figures to beat me. I will put some engines in soon 
in spite of opposition; and, once started, I feel sure 
the work will be easy." 

"I sold a 55 H. P. a few days ago to the cotton- 
seed oil mill now being built in Charlotte, and got 
$1,025 for it. I will make about $80 on it. The 
price was $1,100; but I had severe competition, and 
I had to cut down my profit. The big machinery 
takes so long to deliver and set up. I don't collect 


a cent until I get some machinery running. It will 
take to August 1st to start this last engine." 

"Have just returned from a trip South. I sold 
two engines, and the prospect seems to be very fair 
for good work later. I shall put these two up. In 
one case the only specification made by the planter 
was that I might make my own selection of what he 
required; but he must have on his engine *a big 

"Rock Hill. I sold a large engine here a few days 
ago to the cotton factory, and we are putting it up. 
If it goes all right, it will be a splendid thing for me, 
both because it is a good sale and because of the fact 
it will be well known and a good reference. This 
is a small town 25 miles below Charlotte, which has 
a cotton factory and is growing, as in fact all towns 
in this community are. I am discussing with the 
Clifton factory near Spartanburg another sale of 
large engine." 

"Yesterday I started up the oil mill engine which 
was 65 H. P. It ran nicely and well." 

"I have been on a long trip into Stanley County; and 
if I went near a P. O. I do not know it. For miles 
I saw men and women without a sign of shoes, and 
passed several of the famous N. C. illicit whiskey dis- 
tilleries. A negro drove me, and if I asked a white man 
if any whiskey could be bought, he would promptly 


answer *No.' The negro would then assure him 
I was no revenue officer, but an 'Engine man'; 
then the fellow would not be so sure but we might 
find some if we tried. I asked one red-faced country- 
man if there was much profit in distilling, and he said 
there was. 'Did you ever distill any.'*' I asked. 
*0h, yes,' he said. 'Made money, I suppose.'*' 
*No.' *Why, you said there was good profit in 
it — how was it you made no money.'*' As solemn 
as a judge, he answered, 'I drinked up the profit, 
and more, too, and had to quit'." 

" I am doing a good deal of moving about. I have 
been two days in Robeson County putting up an 

"For a couple of days I have been in Rome, Ga. 
I sold a large engine to Mr. Hammett of the Pied- 
mont Company in South Carolina, and think I may 
sell an engine here later in the season." 

"I am now in a very critical period of my business 
here. I had not a large capital and thought best 
not to employ help until I got a start and some in- 
come. That has proved a good thing — for it has 
taken about this much time to get advertised, and 
I am just now beginning to get real busy." 

His business was now large and growing rapidly. 
He had built it up by himself. He was travelling 
salesman, local salesman, bookkeeper, mechanic. 


and machinist. He found customers, sold machines, 
and set up the machinery. The time was now come 
for larger organization. Looking over the city for a 
partner, he made a selection creditable to his judg- 
ment and reputation. For two years he had occupied 
a large storeroom jointly with R. M. Miller, Sr., a 
cotton commission merchant of character, credit, 
and business capacity, a strong, conservative, upright 
man, representing the traditions of the Old South. A 
partnership was formed under the firm name of D. A. 
Tompkins & Company, with R. M. Miller, Sr., 
president, R. M. Miller, Jr., secretary and treasurer 
and D. A. Tompkins, engineer. The company be- 
came general agents of the Westinghouse Electric 
Company and the Westinghouse Machine Company 
for their southeast territory. 

Tompkins was now rapidly establishing a reputa- 
tion, not only as a successful engineer, machinist, 
and business man, but also as a student of industrial 
forces and an authority on industrial matters. He 
was beginning to be recognized as a new and strong 
force in the industrial life of Charlotte. 

Industrial promoters, writers, and students sought 
him out for instruction and inspiration. The editor 
of the Baltimore Manufacturers^ Record, who at this 
time was passing through Charlotte on one of his 
annual Southern industrial tours, wrote for the Record 
an account of his first meeting with Tompkins: 
"'Have you met D. A. Tompkins.^' were almost the 
first words spoken to me on a visit to Charlotte by 
R. M. Miller, Sr., a leading business man of that 
town. *He is a remarkable young man, and I have 
been so much impressed with him that I have joined 
liim in the establishment of a firm, with the view to 
backing his work with whatever influence my name 


may be worth.'" An interview followed between 
Tompkins and Edmonds wherein Tompkins was 
revealed to Edmonds as a close observer, a clear 
and profound thinker, and a farsighted prophet of 
the industrial South. His analysis of present con- 
ditions, his interpretation of the Old South passing 
into the New% and his vision of its great future were 
so clear, so striking, and so inspiring that Edmonds 
urged him to publish his views for the guidance and 
inspiration of Southern workers. The result was 
the following article, which in the light of the South's 
subsequent development seems almost a prophetic 
vision : 


"The South is in a state of change. A condition 
of civilization which grew upon the basis of the in- 
stitution of slavery is dying and fading away. A 
condition of civilization based upon the new condi- 
tions imposed by the results of the late war has com- 
menced to grow, and its growth is healthy and vigor- 

"There are tenacious people of fine education w^ho 
are living in the dying conditions of ante-bellum life, 
some by obstinate preference, some of necessity. 
These constitute the Old South. They are, as a rule, 
growing poorer day by day, and will continue to 
grow poorer, until the most tenacious of them pass 
out of life; and w^ith them will go the system to which 
they persist in adhering. 

"The people who have adapted themselves to 
the new conditions imposed by the results of the 
Civil War constitute what we are beginning to hear 
called the New South. They have divorced from 


their minds the idea that for a Southern man there 
is no occupation but raising cotton with negro labor, 
and that free negro labor constitutes a curse to a 

"The New South finds within the South unlimited 
raw material from which products required by the 
whole world may be produced. The New South 
finds that the conditions which surround these vast 
resources in raw material are such that only energy 
and good judgment are required to produce many 
articles of commerce cheaper and better in the South 
than can be done in any other country in the world. 

"The New South is of healthy growth. It is 
already a young giant. It is absorbing the assets 
of the old, and adding to them at the same time by 
turning the raw material of the country, heretofore 
mostly untouched, into products from the sale of 
which come handsome profits. 

"In the Piedmont region of North and South 
Carolina cotton factories are springing up quietly 
but with a rapidity equalled nowhere in the United 
States in any industry, except by that of iron-making 
in Alabama and Tennessee. 

"While the opportunities of an iron maker in the 
South are excellent, it may admit of argument 
whether there are not many places in Pennsylvania 
or Ohio where they are as good, or better; but the 
superior advantages enjoyed by a cotton spinner 
operating in the South are conspicuous. Much cotton 
is now being spun in the South which comes direct 
from the field to a gin which is part of the equip- 
ment of the factory. This cotton is free from in- 
numerable little losses to which cotton shipped to 
the New England States, or abroad, is liable, in the 
way of sampling, cost of freight, damage by careless 


handling in the mud, and otherwise, at railway sta- 
tions, etc. The profits of Southern mills are evidence 
of these advantages. 

*'The only difficulty experienced so far in the de- 
velopment of the industry of cotton spinning in the 
South has been the lack of experience of proprietors 
and operatives. By the energy of enterprising men, 
this difficulty is being rapidly overcome. The late 
E. M. Holt, of Alamance County, N. C, was a 
pioneer. He was eminently successful in his efforts 
to operate machinery for spinning and weaving 
cotton. His sons seem to have inherited his energy 
and his enterprise, and each of them is largely in- 
terested in factories that have been established either 
by their father or themselves. 

"In the same county Messrs. Scott, Donnell & 
Scott have demonstrated that a small factory may be 
as successful as a large one if it is handled with the 
same care and judgment. The junior member of the 
firm, Mr. John Scott, has taken hold of the work of 
the factory in a manner and with a success that make 
him a worthy example to other young Southerners 
whose businesses furnish neither sufficient occupation 
nor profit to satisfy them. He is neither afraid to 
work nor to be seen working. 

"All along the Piedmont belt there are men who 
have attained to such success as entitles them to dis- 
tinction. Notable amongst them may be men- 
tioned D. W. Gates, superintendent of the Charlotte 
(N. C.) Cotton Mills, and R. Y. McAlden, of Char- 
lotte, founder and proprietor of the factories at 
McAdenville. Both by handsome profits have in- 
creased the investments which were originally made 
at the factories they manage. 

"In Randolph County, on Deep River, there are 


factories in quick succession, as we travel down the 
river — at Randleman, Naomi Falls, Worthville, 
Frankl^Titon, and many others. Amongst the men who 
have contributed to the growth of these enterprises 
are John H. Ferree, T. C. Worth, and Hugh Parks. 

"On the other side of the line of the R. & D. R. R. 
and in the same locality are the twan towns of Salem 
and Winston; and here we find many men of enter- 
prise and much diversit}^ of industrial pursuit. It 
is not to spinning cotton alone they give their atten- 
tion. Messrs. F. &. H. Fries make an excellent cloth, 
and the neat suits of clothes they wear are made of 
cloth which is spun and woven in factories which 
they themselves have built and are actively engaged 
in managing. At this place also is a large interest 
in the manufacture of tobacco; and numerous fac- 
tories have grown up in a few years. Haynes, Brown, 
Vaughn, and others have built large tobacco factories, 
and they utilize negro labor, and have found it 
profitable. Durham is another point where enter- 
prising people have turned raw material into valua- 
ble product, and have created wealth out of what was 
formerly left by their forefathers as worthless. From 
Durham and Winston shipments of manufactured 
tobacco are made to all parts of the world. Tobacco 
alone is not the only manufactured product that 
goes out of Durham — cotton and wool are spun 
there, and in these latter enterprises J. M. Odell, 
of Concord, has interest, as well as the interests he 
has at his home in Cabarrus County. 

"C. E. Hege, of Salem, is turning North Carolina 
pine wood into sawmills, which are being shipped 
to all parts of the United States, and in return there- 
for other products are coming into North Carolina. 
W. S. Liddell, of Charlotte, has within ten years 


built up a machine shop the total value of which is 
so much addition to the wealth of the states. He 
ships cotton presses throughout the South, and his 
cotton presses, sawmills, in fact most of his products 
are simply North Carolina raw material turned into 
finished and marketable machines. 

"One of the neatest strokes of enterprise anywhere 
in the South was that of E. D. Latta, of Charlotte, 
in establishing about two years ago a factory for 
the manufacture of ready-made pants out of cloths 
woven mostly in North Carolina. His shipments 
are to Northern points as well as to Southern, and his 
factory would be a valuable addition to the enter- 
prises of any town North or South. 

"The above cursory references are far from giving 
an adequate idea of the extent to which North Caro- 
linians are utilizing the raw materials of the State, 
and producing therefrom with North Carolina labor 
products the sale of which is making the State rich. 

"The gold-mining interest is no small one; and 
at Charlotte the Mecklenburg Iron Works, a large 
machine shop, is kept largely occupied with the 
equipments of machinery for gold mines and the re- 
pairs connected therewith. 

"In the western part of the State marble of fine 
quality is quarried ; mica is mined in very large quan- 
tities. The mountain regions are becoming well- 
known and popular summer and winter resorts, not 
for the people of the State and the South, but for the 
whole United States. 

"It is pleasing to note the diversity of enterprise, 
as exampled in the spoke and handle factories at 
Greensboro, the shuttle and shuttle block factories 
at High Point, in the preparation of barrel, stave, 
and spoke and felloe stock at Lexington and Thomas- 


ville. There are in operation in North Carolina more 
than 275,000 spindles; and the factories belong to and 
are operated by North Carolinians; and the number 
of their spindles is increasing. 

"It was the intention in this article to speak more 
particularly of North Carolina, but, leaving the 
State and keeping mainly within the Piedmont 
belt, we find at Clifton, S. C, splendid properties 
under the management of D. E. Converse, and to his 
credit it may be said they are properties founded 
and built up under his management. 

"Thirty miles farther westward is Greenville 
and Col. H. P. Hammett — with his Camperdown 
Mills and his Piedmont Mills and other properties, 
and he pays to his stockholders dividends, whether 
times are good or w^hether they are bad. 

"Atlanta is full of enterprises and enterprising 
men, and the growth of that city is a fair example 
of the results of Southern raw material and Southern 
labor combined. Here, too, the diversity of enter- 
prise is marked. Here it is possible to contract for 
the products of cotton or cottonseed. Here are 
the headquarters of marble companies supplying 
marble as fine as the Italian stone. Granite is sup- 
plied for paving the streets of cities to the north 
and west. Here are manufactured cotton gins, 
steam engines, and various machines used in the prep- 
aration of cotton for the market. In Macon, J. F. 
Hanson is the successful manager of two splendidly 
equipped cotton factories; and at Columbus there 
are the Eagle and Phoenix Mills, than which none 
in Massachusetts has been more successful. 

"In Alabama, O. O. Nelson, of Montgomery, 
and George O. Baker, of Selma, have been foremost 
in the development of the new industry of crush- 


ing cottonseed for its products. And in connection 
with the growth of the iron interest the names of 
Doctor Caldwell of Birmingham, and A. H. Moses of 
Sheffield, are more than well known in connection 
with the growth of two cities and the marvellous 
multiplication of the original dollars invested by the 
corporations of which they are the heads. Both 
these gentlemen undertook the management of the 
affairs of the companies they now represent at a 
time when prospects did not look bright, and when 
the stock of the respective companies was not par- 
ticularly marketable. Under their management the 
properties they control have increased in value more 
than any other properties in the United States 
have ever been known to do before. While these 
places stand conspicuous for their growth from 
almost nothing to marvellous wealth, other places 
have grown also, and other men in lesser degrees have 
done excellent work in Chattanooga, Anniston, South 
Pittsburg, etc., etc. 

"With all this improvement and marvellous prog- 
ress how is it that we now and then see in a well- 
written public journal that the South is growing 
poorer? It is because the editor lives amongst 
people who have not yet consented to give up ante- 
bellum ways and ideas. Many a man who formerly 
owned a hundred slaves and lived handsomely on a 
plantation is maintaining a slipshod semblance of 
the same sort of life, and is trying to raise cotton 
with free labor as he raised it with slave labor. He 
honestly believes he cannot afford to pay a negro 
laborer any except the most meagre wages, because 
he don't earn any more, and the negro in his turn is 
indifferent about whether he works or not, because 
he is so ill paid. The truth of the matter is that the 


average ante-bellum slave owner is a poor manager of 
free negro labor. Each year the labor is leaving 
the plantations and farms, and is being engaged in 
the new industrial pursuits. 

"There are plantations within the writer's knowl- 
edge on which the amount of labor formerly em- 
ployed was not less than fifty able-bodied hands, 
and on which to-day there is not a real first-rate hand, 
but only some half-dozen indifferent workers, and 
yet the families who own the places are still trying 
to maintain the appearances of the life they led when 
the place swarmed with slaves. They are growing 
poorer, of course, but an energetic man with a taste 
for farming could take the same place and make good 
wages and 50 per cent, per annum on the money value 
of the place, and that raising cotton, too, at 8 cents 
per pound. But to do it he would have to take the 
first row himself, and pay fair wages to a good hand 
to take the second. A large part of the white rural 
population in the South was formerly wealthy, and 
could control labor enough to support it without 
work. The conditions under w^hich that was possi- 
ble have passed away. The mineral resources and 
the industrial pursuits of the South have come into 
quick prominence. The ore and coal beds of Ala- 
bama have existed for centuries. To turn them into 
wealth was only a matter of judicious labor. 

"The cotton which Southern people have only 
lately begun to spin with such profit has been here 
all the while slavery existed. It would seem that 
where an acre of ground can be made to produce a 
bale of cotton worth forty to fifty dollars with no 
more expense nor labor than a Northwestern acre 
can be made to produce forty bushels of corn worth 
fifteen dollars, that for the farmer the South is cer- 


tainly the promised land even more than for the 
cotton spinner or iron maker. If farming were done 
in the South with the same method and energy that 
the iron maker or spinner bestows upon his business, 
it is beyond a doubt that its fame as a rich agricul- 
tural country would be not one whit less splendid 
than it was in days of slavery. A farm laborer 
should be paid for a year's labor at least the sum 
of money that would pay for his food and clothes 
w^hile he was a slave, and in addition thereto a sum 
that would be a fair interest on the value of himself 
and family while slaves. 

*'The South stood once one of the foremost and 
richest agricultural countries in the world. The 
soil upon which she raises cotton now is the same as 
that upon which she raised it then. The prices ob- 
tained now are more than then, and the cost of labor 
now is less than then if the maintenance of slaves 
and interest on investment be taken into considera- 

"The next Southern boom should be a farming 
boom. The soil of the South is as superior to that 
of the rest of the United States as her mineral and 
forest resources are. Her climate is as fine as that 
in which ancient Rome attained the highest of all 
civilizations within the knowledge of history. 

"The parts of the South in which the old is slowest 
to give way to the new are the very parts in which 
most success was attained under the old system. 
They have the most to unlearn. In the coast cities, 
which were formerly the centres of all the wealth, 
their engines are old and they abhor modern types. 
It is not realized that a gentleman and a mechanic 
may be combined in one man. It is in these regions 
also that the systems of farming is least changed. 


and it is in these sections that most of the people 
live who are growing poorer in the South. But as 
the natural wealth of the other parts of the South 
lay for a long time untouched, but finally came 
quickly into notice and was rapidly developed, so 
we have every reason to believe that all the land 
formerly worked with profitable results may be 
worked again, and will be worked again with similar 

"What is said regarding the increasing poverty of 
the plantation Southerner is said in no spirit of re- 
proach. It is his misfortune to be a part of a system 
that is slowly but surely passing away. The labor 
upon which he formerly depended is gradually leav- 
ing him. Part of it is going West, and part is being 
absorbed by the cottonseed oil mills, the new rail- 
ways, the tobacco factories, and the various other new 
enterprises being brought into existence by the new 
spirit of enterprise, as exemplified in the history 
of the successes of Hammett, Moses, Gates, Carr, 
and others. The Southern planter created the cotton- 
producing industry. By means of it alone he 
made the South rich and powerful. The system by 
which his success was attained fell with the insti- 
tution of slavery. Entwined as our pride and affec- 
tions are in the old planting system and all that is 
associated with it, we cannot see it pass away without 
regret; but as we look for success in the future we 
must recognize the fact that new ideas of life have 
taken a firm hold of the South; and, to succeed and 
prosper, we must spin cotton, or farm, alike, in the 
light of the new order of things. 

The West never did offer the opportunity to ac- 
cumulate wealth in farming that is now offered to 
any one in the South. Rich as her other resources 


are suddenly discovered to be, she was once rich as 
the result of farming; and it is idle to claim that there 
is less profit in working land by free labor than by 
slave labor. There would seem to be no reason 
why farm lands in the South to-day should not be 
one of the best of all the opportunities for invest- 
ment she is offering." 

This letter analyzes the South 's industrial condi- 
tion, and points the way of the New South — a new 
South of varied and intensive agriculture, of manu- 
factures, of educated and skilled labor, of thrift 
and economy — a new South turning away from the 
sole business of cotton culture, and utilizing in manu- 
facturing industries its vast and varied resources. 

It was a favorite belief of Tompkins that the early 
South, during the eighteenth century and the begin- 
ning of the nineteenth, had surpassed the North in 
commerce, manufactures, and agriculture, and that 
Southern superiority had been destroyed by slavery. 
The abolition of slavery set free the South for a 
career of industrial development. Tompkins saw 
this career already beginning; and the vision of its 
fulfillment fired him with enthusiasm and patriotic 
ambition. He became immovably fixed in the belief 
that the South was capable of maintaining any in- 
dustries and manufacturing any products that ex- 
isted anywhere on the globe. This belief was the 
keynote of his life. 



THE first large constructive work Q fJIompkins-^ 
was to utilize a waste productof the cotton 
plantatio n^ There was no wastefulness in 
the Old Southmor^ costly or more conspicuous than 
the throwing away of cottonseed. Heaped up in 
piles near the cotton gins, where they had been 
dumped out by the ginners, thousands of tons of 
seed, worth millions of dollars, lay rotting in the open 
air, applied to no use except occasionally a very 
limited use as 'crude fertilizer. Year by year the 
seed pile would grow, until it became a small hill, 
forming a feature of the plantation skyline. Tomp- 
kins in boyhood frolics with negro companions had 
played hide-and-seek or fought mimic battles on the 
big seed piles. He was now to utilize these moun- 
tains of waste. 

The sale of an engine soon after his arrival in 
Charlotte was the beginning of a business connection 
which started him on a career to revolutionize and 
recreate the cottonseed industry of the South. *'I 
landed in Charlotte," he writes in his memoirs, 
"about the same time as Fred Oliver. He was a na- 
tive of Cohoes, N. Y., and came here from Paterson, 
N. J., with about $25,000 capital. He had heard of 
the oil in cottonseed and came here to investigate 
the possibilities that lay in this field. He bought 
the old flour mill building and converted it into a 



cottonseed oil mill. I sold him a Westinghouse 
engine, and this led to an engagement to help him 
construct the oil mill. In another year Fred Oliver 
with his brothers built a large mill in Columbia; and 
I designed and supervised the building of the mill 
as an engineering proposition. Thus I became 
launched in the cotton oil mill business." 

At this time the cotton oil mill business was prac- 
tically monopolized by the American Cotton Oil 
Trust. Tompkins was quick to see that the mills 
of the trust were below the standard of efficiency. 
Nor was he slow to profit by this condition. He 
resolved to organize a new company for the construc- 
tion of new mills with new machinery. The story 
is graphically told by his fellow worker, Richard 
H. Edmonds: 

"In the spring of 1886 Tompkinc, on his way to 
New York, stopped to pay a visit to the Manu- 
facturers' Record office. He was going to New 
York to sell a cottonseed oil mill to the American 
Cotton Oil Co., which had recently been formed 
and which was then buying up nearly all existing 
mills. He stated that while he questioned the wis- 
dom of some of the purchases that company was 
making, he was acting for a client for the sale of an 
oil mill. It was, in his opinion, he said, impossible 
for that company to control the cotton oil trade; for 
modern, up-to-date mills could be constructed which 
in many respects would be superior to some of the 
mills the company was accepting. His views were 
so interesting that he was asked to write a series of 
articles for the Manufacturers' Record explaining how 
independent mills could be built and operated profi- 
tably in competition with the big combination. In 
a week or two article No. 1 of the series was received 


and published, with the announcement that it would 
be followed by other chapters. After waiting a week 
or two for the second instalment, urgent letters and 
telegrams brought another visit from Tompkins. He 
explained that the more he had studied the matter, 
the more he had become impressed with the possibili- 
ties of a new cotton oil company. The facts which 
he had prepared for the proposed series of papers 
had been turned into a prospectus for the organiza- 
tion of a company which he was endeavoring to 
form with $2,500,000 capital." 

The article by Tompkins, above referred to by 
Edmonds, the first of a proposed series, is not only 
an interesting study of the Southern cotton oil in- 
dustry as it then existed, but also a very interesting 
picture of Tompkins: his plans and purposes, his 
methods of thought and business, his powers of ob- 
servation, analysis, and deduction. The article is too 
long to quote in full, but extracts will suffice. 


"Probably few large works have ever been con- 
structed with so little engineering skill and so much 
useless expenditure of money as the average cotton- 
seed oil mill; and there are probably few businesses 
wherein the cost of working a fixed quantity of raw 
material into product has been so great in proportion 
to what is actually accomplished as has been the 
case in the cottonseed oil business; but in spite of 
exorbitant first cost and excessive running expendi- 
tures, profits have, nevertheless, been large. Most 
of the mills built in the South were put up by a class 
of men known as millwrights and carpenters, who 


delighted in slow-running shafting and ponderous 
gear wheels; and the more complex the appearance of 
the belting, elevators, conveyors, and so forth, the 
more successful the result was considered. Only one 
mill built up to the present time can be said to have 
been built with any approximation to engineering 
economy and results; and no question exists but what 
it is far short of possibilities of improved construc- 
tion and profitable operation. 

*'The best mill now running should produce prod- 
ucts out of one ton of seed which will sell for $4.92 
more than the products produced out of the same 
ton by an old and unimproved mill, and for $2.15 
more than the product produced out of the same ton 
by an old and improved mill. New designs have 
been made, however, by which at least one dollar 
per ton still further may be produced in the shape 
of additional product. 

"Besides this saving in price of product there is a 
similar saving in working expenses of old and new 
mills, so that, when a system of new mills would be 
running at anything near cost, the present existing 
mills would be running, as a system, at a loss of many 
thousands of dollars per day. Many operations 
done in the old mills by hand are done in the new and 
improved mills by machinery, and in a much better 
and cheaper manner. 

"Competition will, of course, alter the price of oil: 
but a new system of mills could stand a far greater 
reduction than the old ones. In fact, with new mills 
running on prices which left no profit, the old ones 
would be suffering enormous losses. 

"The owners of mills properly constructed could 
pay farmers three dollars per ton more for seed, sell 
oil to consumers ten cents per gallon less, and still 


make fair profits, under circumstances under which 
old mills would run at very heavy loss. 

*'A large majority of existing mills are practically 
under one management; and it may be assumed to be 
one of the specific aims of that management to pre- 
vent the construction of any new mill, and control 
the production and sale of cottonseed oil. 

*'The locations of many old mills were determined 
by local influences, such as the desire of local capital- 
ists to build up a town, the enterprise of citizens 
at points not the most favorable for mills; and in 
many cases they are old mills constructed for other 
purposes and turned into oil mills, which cannot be 
economically adapted for the application of approved 
design and machinery, now possible to obtain for 
oil mill construction. Poorly built as the existing 
mills are, and badly situated as many of them also 
are, as above indicated, being under one manage- 
ment, a single mill could be forced out of competition 
without serious detriment to them as one organiza- 

"But with a capital of 5 million dollars there could 
be built twenty mills, of one hundred to 150 tons per 
24 hours capacity, each at a cost of $125,000, and 
still have a working capital left of $125,000 for each 
mill also, making it unnecessary to borrow money 
at the high rate of interest now prevalent throughout 
the South. Locations should also be selected for 
these mills such that freight rates both for seed 
and product could be reduced far below present cost 
to existing mills. The cash cost of existing mills has 
probably averaged more than four times what mills 
could at present be built for at equal capacity; be- 
sides this original cost they have been pooled into a 
combination on terms and conditions, which is prac- 


tically the equivalent of watering the stock to an 
unknown extent. 

"It is probably fair to assume that any dividend 
which may be earned will be for division on a capital 
of 40 million dollars or over. The only ostensible 
property to represent this enormous capital is a 
lot of old mills, most of which should have been 
abandoned years ago, and would have been, excepl 
for the enormous profits in the business, and also a 
lot of old machinery. In fact, probably 90 
per cent, of properties in the combination were fit 
to be put into the scrap pile when they went in. 
Whatever is the total capital of the combination, it 
represents properties taken in; and much evidence 
has been observed in proof of the assertion that none 
of it is in money. 

"The capital necessary to build twenty mills, as 
indicated, would be 2| million dollars; and with a 
cash capital of 5 million dollars there would be left 
2 J million dollars for running capital. A company 
formed now would have the following advantages: 
a series of mills the best possible to be built in the 
present state of the art, all new, in the best possible 
location with regard to seed and freight; not a dollar 
in old and worthless property; ample running capital; 
on an average more oil per ton than the best mill 
now gets; seed at less cost per ton than the best mill 
now does; more concentrated organization; position 
to do the planter good instead of harm; low rate of 
insurance and the fact of being organized in the direc- 
tion of benefit for the general public as well as for 
the benefit of the organizers, and not to force the public 
to pay an exorbitant price on a product in order to 
pay a dividend on a fictitious capital." 

The ideas and plans thus outlined were carried out 


with perfect success. The undertaking was gigantic, 
not only in magnitude but also because the conditions 
of fulfilment demanded immediate completion. The 
company was organized as the Southern Cotton Oil 
Company, with Henry C. Butcher, of Philadelphia, 
president; Frederick Oliver, of Columbia, S. C, man- 
ager; John Oliver, of Columbia, S. C, secretary and 
treasurer, and Daniel A. Tompkins, of Charlotte, 
N. C, engineer. The story of the work is graphic- 
ally told by Richard H. Edmonds. 

"The money was soon raised. Some of the sub- 
scribers of the stock were great packing interests who 
were afraid to let their connection be known lest 
they should be discriminated against by the oil mill 
combination, upon which they then depended for 
their supply. One of them publicly denied any con- 
nection with the company, although a large subscriber 
to the stock. To meet this situation and make cer- 
tain of providing an ample oil supply for these con- 
cerns, Tompkins determined that the new mills 
should be completed in time to crush the coming 
crop. It was then about March or April. Plans 
were put under way, draftsmen and engineers put 
to work to provide the drawings for eight mills to 
cost about $250,000 each. Sites were selected at 
several points in the Carolinas, Atlanta, Little Rock, 
and at some Texas towns. To design eight mills, to 
select locations at widely scattered and strategic 
points, to contract for buildings and machinery in 
April or May, and guarantee their completion by 
September or early October, was a task which, con- 
sidering the conditions in the South in 1C86 as com- 
pared with recent years, has not, I believe, been 
equalled since. 

During the construction period I was occasionally 


in Tompkins' office, but he was too busy crowding 
the work to give the details. That fall his partner 
\ old me the story of the engineering and construction 
work, of the daily telegraphic reports that Tompkins 
got from every mill as to its exact status; and, as one 
mill after another was reported as completed, the 
message went back, "Turn on steam," and every 
mill moved olf in perfect working order. That was 
an achievement rarely equalled even in these days, 
when the facilities for construction work have been 
multiplied many times as compared with conditions 
in 1886. In those days it seemed that Tompkins 
could have nearly, if not quite, equalled Edison in 
his ability to work twenty hours a day and sleep 
four. I have sometimes wondered if during that 
period he really knew a home except the sleeping 
car, and even in a sleeping car he must have been too 
busy planning and working grudgingly to have 
yielded up many hours to sleep." 

This remarkable achievement was the beginning of 
a long career of cotton oil mill construction. It is 
not necessary to follow that career in detail. For 
twenty years as builder, designer, and investor, 
Tompkins promoted the cotton oil industry. As a 
missionary for cottonseed utilization he canvassed 
the South, addressing chambers of commerce, boards 
of trade, merchants' associations, farmers' conven- 
tions, legislators, capitalists, and teachers. \Mienever 
and wherever an audience was ready he was ready 
to address them. Nor did he confine himself to 
speeches. By means of editorials, interviews, news 
items, and communications he flooded the press with 
articles on cottonseed mills, cottonseed fertilizers, 
cottonseed feed, cottonseed as the basis of dairying, 
tender beef from cottonseed meal, cotton oil for 


cooking, cotton oil for salads, and the like topics. 
His speeches and writings aroused interest every- 
where. Mills sprung up in every Southern state. 
Whenever sufficient interest was aroused, he was 
ready with plans for mill construction. If capital 
was lacking, he helped to raise it. If necessity re- 
quired, he furnished the entire capital. In some 
cases he aroused public interest by an address, pro- 
cured stockholders, effected an organization, designed 
plans for the mill, supervised the mill construction, 
furnished the machinery, and installed it in the build- 
ing, employed the superintendent, bought a year's 
supply of seed, and started off the mill — all without 
cost to the community. He dotted the South with 
oil mills. 

But Tompkins was not content to build mills. He 
was constantly making improvements in mill build- 
ings and mill machinery. He imparted his own en- 
thusiasm to the mill men, and sought to enlarge 
their mental horizons. His address at the annual 
convention of the Inter-State Cottonseed Crushers' 
Association at Old Point Comfort, Va., exhibits his 
power, his enthusiasm, his vision of the evolution 
of cottonseed industries, his fine perception of eco- 
nomic relations between allied industries. 


"It has been for a long time a sort of fashion to 
charge against people of the South a want of enter- 
prise and energy. In many cases the credit for the 
very work which the South is doing is claimed by 
the people of some other section, and the idea put to 
the forward that alien money or alien talent is neces- 
sary for the success of a proposed enterprise. 


"WTiile no one has been more earnest in inviting 
capital to the South for profitable investment and 
talent for profitable employment, because of the 
ample room and opportunity for both, yet for the 
best interests of our home people and their children 
hereafter, it is not desirable for these to relinquish 
to others the foremost positions or the best oppor- 

"The cotton oil industry is one which has been 
developed, to all practical purposes, exclusively in 
the South and by Southern people. It is an industry 
in which the enterprise and energy of our home people 
are made manifest whenever self-reliance is one of the 
elements in the proposition. A people with less 
self-reliance and less steadiness of purpose could 
never have rescued civilization from the dangers 
that confronted it for a quarter of a century after 
the Civil War. In the production of the best and 
cheapest raw material for clothing and in such enor- 
mous quantities, and also in the development of such 
a splendid industry in producing food products out 
of cottonseed — the demonstration of the wonderful 
originality and capability of the people of the South 
has been made perfect. 

No business men in America are entitled to more 
credit than the cotton oil mill men. You have 
brought out of nothing a busiuess which you have 
developed into values reaching into millions. Even 
in the production of the crude products, oil, hulls, 
meal, and lint, the cottonseed industry has become 
one of very large proportions. 

"Still greater advantages will come, however, 
from still further development, in which knowledge 
and skill and industry will change values by the barrel 
or by the ton into values by the pint and pound. The 


intensive system of agriculture is responsible for 
wonderful strides in that competition. By skilful 
and scientific manipulation an acre of ground 
is now made to yield three times the product of 
former years. The same intensive idea in steam 
engineering has made it possible to produce from a 
ton of coal three times as much power as formerly. 
The same intensive idea can easily wrench from 
a ton of cottonseed three times the present 

"How to go forward to this goal is the problem 
we must all keep before us. First of all, we must 
look to the proper construction of the machinery and 
the building in order to reduce the expenses. The 
item of insurance is excessive. The oil mills in this 
part of the country pay an average rate of about 3 
per cent. The very best of them do not pay less 
than three quarters of 1 per cent., and there are 
not a dozen mills in this class. Cotton mills, carry- 
ing on a business even more hazardous, easily insure 
for one fifth to one quarter of 1 per cent. \Miy this 
differences^ It is entirely a question of construction 
and equipment. It is perfectly possible so to con- 
struct an oil mill and equip it with fire-protecting 
apparatus that it will insure as easily as a cotton 
mill. The same features of construction and manage- 
ment that conduce to low insurance also conduce to 
more cleanly premises, and hence a better grade of 
products. The condition of the average oil mill, 
as to cleanliness, is something appalling. \^Tien 
it is considered that practically all of the products 
are for food, and a large part food for man, the filthy 
condition of most mills is a lasting reproach, and will 
help keep alive the prejudice against cotton oil as 
an article of food. 


"But the greatest step toward increasing the prof- 
its Hes, of course, in continuing the processes to greater 
refinements and diversifying the products, making 
a more finished article for the market. The usual 
process of refining yields 'summer yellow.' If this 
process is conducted with suflficient care and skill, 
the result may be called 'butter oil.' If this oil 
be properly manipulated with other materials, a fine 
butter substitute may be produced and sold direct 
from the mills, instead of shipping the oil to Holland 
to be manipulated and sold from there. If the oil 
is properly treated, the finest salad oil may be made. 
This is a mere matter of skill. Ten years ago it was 
as diflScult to find even an ordinary refiner as it now 
is to find a first-class one. More attention is now 
being paid to our education in these lines, and it 
should not be long before we can find sufiScient skill 
to make table oils equal to those of Europe. We 
now export $12,000,000 worth of oil, half of which 
goes to France, where it is refined and manipulated 
to suit the palates of a population accustomed to 
olive oil. It ought to be and is possible to make 
salad oil here from cottonseed which is superior 
to imported olive oil, for the reason that we can al- 
ways have fresh cotton oil, while the imported oils 
must of necessity be older. The matter of freshness 
is, in the present state of the art, a most important 
one. Certain changes take place in oils with age 
no matter in what way they are kept. The changes 
are always for the worse, and tend toward rancidity. 
It is not impossible, however, that a way may be 
found to remedy even this trouble. A wide field is 
open for the manipulation of oil so that when it is 
used for cooking there will be no disagreeable odours. 
Great progress has been made in this line, and several 


companies now claim to turn out such products. 
But the best of them fall far short of perfection. 

*'The manufacture of fine soap is an important 
direction to look in. A number of mills now make a 
crude soap from their refuse products and some make 
good laundry soap from refined oil. It is but a step 
farther to make fine toilet soap. There is a wide 
difference between the best laundry soap which sells 
at 5 cents per pound and some French toilet soaps 
selling at $1.50 per pound. The difference is mostly 
a matter of skill and knowledge, and but slightly a 
matter of raw material. In the manufacture of soap 
an important by-product is glycerine, which itself 
is capable of great degrees of refining, and which, if 
handled to the limit, would add greatly to the value 
of the output. It is difficult to set any limit to which 
the chemical end of the business may not be worked. 

"A much more simple branch of the business, 
and one w^hich we already have the skill to prosecute, 
is the proper disposition of the hulls and meal. 
Fifteen years ago hulls were burned as a fuel. Their 
fuel value is from 50 to 75 cents per ton, according 
to the price of coal in the locality. We now sell 
hulls as a cattle food at $5 per ton, and would consider 
it idiotic to burn such a valuable foodstuff. But 
yet we bury in the ground a large quantity of cotton- 
seed meal, calling it a fertilizer, when it really is a 
foodstuff, just as we once called hulls a fuel. There 
is no more denying the fact that meal will act as a 
fertilizer than there was, or is, that hulls will act as a 
fuel. But on the same reasoning we might call rose- 
wood a fuel, or cottonseed a fertilizer. It is a ques- 
tion of valuation for the purpose. On the present 
market the experiment stations give a fertilizer's 
valuation to cottonseed $10 per ton and cottonseed 


meal $20, while we know that cottonseed has a value 
in its mill product of $20 per ton, and the experiment 
station valuation on meal as a foodstuff is $35 per 
ton. Hence it is more profitable to take meal out 
of the fertilizer class than it is cottonseed itself. 

*'In transferring meal from the fertilizer class to 
the foodstuff class a most curious result occurs, 
nothing less than the creating of a fertilizer value 
after feeding, which is about equal to the original 
fertilizing value of the meal. Mr. Edwin Lehman 
Johnson, of Clemson College, has made a special 
study of this matter, and he gives the results of some 
actual experiments as below. He fed five cows on 
cottonseed meal and hulls. 

Meal, 20 lbs. per day at $20 . . 20 
Hulls, 80 lbs. per day at $3 . . .12 

Cost of daily ration . . .32 

They excreted 177 J pounds, which, when air dried, 
yielded 59 pounds, having a valuation of $0,297. The 
cost of all the feed per animal was $0,064. The 
fertilizer produced $0,059. Hence the animals were 
sustained and fattened at a daily net cost of half a 
cent. The value of the excreted fertilizer was 93 
per cent, of the cost of the food. 

It is found that a steer weighing 1,000 pounds may be 
fed for 100 days on a daily ration of 6 pounds of meal 
and 24 pounds of hulls, and gain about 300 pounds in 
weight. If the hulls from a 10,000,000-bale cotton 
crop (say 4,000,000 tons of seed, besides planting 
seed) were used in this manner, they would feed 
1,600,000 cattle for 100 days. The meal would feed 
4,000,000 cattle. Thus by supplementing the hulls 
with some other rough forage from the farm, it is 


seen that the products from one ton of seed will 
fatten one steer. 

"It is a great mistake for the Southern States to 
be so much in want of good beef that they bring 
immense trainloads from Chicago, while they have 
at their doors enough of the best possible feed for 
more than a million beef cattle. The full apprecia- 
tion of this condition will work wonders for the 
prosperity of this section. Systematic cattle feeding 
will induce systematic butchering, which will develop 
into packing houses. Packing houses diversify 
their products to an endless degree. We shall then 
have a logical plant, using cottonseed as a raw ma- 
terial. The beef cattle fattened on cottonseed prod- 
ucts will produce fertilizers for the enrichment of 
cotton farmers. When slaughtered, they will yield 
tallow and oleo, which may be mixed with cotton 
oil for lard compound and butter substitutes. 

" The cotton oil business in some degree of intensi- 
fied development is as important an adjunct to the 
farm community as a ginnery. There is room for 
a small plant in every cotton-producing community. 
It has been the fashion in the past for farmers move- 
ments to oppose oil mills. But it may easily be seen 
that a thrifty community derives great profit from 
the oil mill, and nothing will more quickly tend to 
bring about a full understanding of the matter than 
the extensive feeding of cattle. And this very con- 
dition will enhance the fertility of the soil and advance 
the condition of the farmer. It becomes, therefore, 
clear that there are ample fields open for the further 
development of values out of this business that are 
and may become auxiliary to it." 

After locating mills in the industrial centres of the 
cotton-growing states, Tompkins began a campaign 


for small mills in rural districts. "There are great 
possibilities," said he, "for small country oil mills. 
They are in proximity to the raw material, and are 
relieved of freight rates both on the raw material 
and on most of their products. The oil that may 
be extracted from cottonseed by the processes now 
in use constitutes but 15 per cent, of the whole weight 
of the seed. Hence, if a mill can buy seed from wag- 
ons at its doors and sell its meal and hulls over the 
counter, so to speak, it has saved freight on 100 per 
cent, of raw material and 85 per cent, of finished 
product. Working on this basis, and not attempting 
to operate a mill larger than can supply and be sup- 
plied by its wagon territory, there is every hope of 
permanent success for country oil mills. They are 
analogous to the cotton mill in the heart of cheap 
cotton territory, manufacturing coarse goods at 
10 cents per pound, where the cost of cotton at 6 cents 
is a large proportion of the value of the product. 
They have almost a prohibitive advantage, on this 
particular line of goods, over competitors in other 
districts where high prices prevail for raw material. 
In the entire cotton-growing area every community 
must have its oil mill. The big ones (60 to 300 tons 
capacity with refineries) and the little ones (20 to 
60 tons capacity with cattle-feeding and fertilizer 
departments) both have ample room for operation." 

The crusade for cotton oil mills in rural districts 
was waged with his usual energy among the planters 
and farmers of the South by speeches, lectures, news- 
paper articles, and circular letters; and was attended 
with the usual results. The story of this work is 
told by himself with characteristic modesty, no hint 
being given of his own agency in the work. 

"During the last spring and summer no less than a 


hundred new oil mills have sprung up, the average 
size being thirty tons of seed per day. Previous 
to this year there were about 300 mills, averaging in 
size about seventy tons. This year's addition is 
equal to 33 per cent, of the whole number of mills 
and 14 per cent, of the whole crushing capacity. 

" Prominent among the causes leading to the great 
increase of small mills is the increased country de- 
mand for cottonseed products. No business has been 
better advertised and none more systematically 
investigated and fostered by the general government 
and by the several State governments. Agricultural 
bureaus and experiment stations of each of the cotton- 
growing states have made exhaustive scientific and 
practical investigations of the products, with the 
result of unanimously approving of them and recom- 
mending them. 

"Fifteen years ago cotton planters were congratu- 
lating themselves on finding sale for cottonseed, which 
had hitherto been thrown away, and which had been 
a positive nuisance. But at that very time the oil 
mills had cottonseed hulls on their hands as a waste 
product and a nuisance. They were utilized as fuel 
to run the mills, but even that did not consume them 
all. Compared with the average price paid for coal, 
cottonseed hulls are worth for fuel less than $1 per 

"During the past ten years it has been demon- 
strated that the real value of cottonseed hulls is as a 
foodstuff for cattle. As such the true value ranges 
from $4 to $10 per ton, according to the prevailing 
price of other foodstuffs. The large mills have made 
great efforts to promulgate this fact, and have even 
fed large herds of beef cattle on their own account 
for the purpose of utilizing the hulls and for advertis- 


ing their value, so that now the value of all cotton- 
seed products is well known in the most remote 

"With the understanding of the uses of cotton- 
seed meal and hulls as foodstuff for cattle there came 
an increasing demand for these products from the 
country districts. And then the country districts 
began to discover that they were shipping away their 
cottonseed and buying back only a part of them, 
and paying out, counting freights and hauling, about 
as much as they received for the seed. Thus the 
idea of country mills took firm root." You would 
never suspect that the writer was himself the mission- 
ary of this campaign and the chief builder of the mills. 

His career as a builder of cotton oil mills was 
modestly credited by Tompkins to his teachers, em- 
ployers, and associates: 

"Just after I had left the South Carolina Univer- 
sity, General E. P. Alexander built an oil mill in 
Columbia, but it failed for the reason that the farm- 
ers would not haul their seed to market and sell them. 
Gen. Alexander's efforts were the first important 
efforts on an engineering basis; but the General was 
a military man and not an industrial man; and, be- 
sides, this was a little too early for the farmers, who 
had to be trained a little before they would sell their 

"My connection with the first oil mill at Charlotte 
led to my undertaking other contracts, and the 
second mill I built was in Columbia within a block 
of where General Alexander's mill had been built. I 
think the oil mill I built at Columbia for the Oliver 
Brothers was the first oil mill that was ever built to 
engineering drawings; and the plans of it are still in 
use. In these plans I incorporated ideas of Alexan- 


der, Holley, Fritz, and Westinghouse. It was more 
or less accidental that I was able to incorporate the 
ideas of four such good men; hence, the success of 
the first effort. 

"Methods which Mr. Holley had used in introduc- 
ing the Bessemer process served me well in develop- 
ing the cotton oil business. He organized a com- 
pany and helped raise the capital to build a steel 
works. Long afterward throughout the South I 
helped to organize companies and helped to raise the 
capital to build cottonseed oil mills. Through a 
period of twenty or twenty -five years or more I was 
very much occupied in introducing the cotton oil 
industry into new sections. 

"I asked my treasurer the other day how many 
oil mills we had built, and he said about 250, all told. 
This seems almost incredible, but besides the mills 
I built myself a number of others were built from 
drawings I made." 

The U. S. census for 1900 (Bulletin 190, by Henry 
G. Kittredge) strikingly emphasizes the importance 
and the growth of the cottonseed oil industry : 

"Closely allied to cotton manufacturing is the 
cottonseed oil industry, in which there has been a 
great revolution within late years in the utilization 
of the cottonseed, in obtaining most valuable com- 
mercial by-products, that were at one time allowed 
to go to waste with the seed in the form of manure. 
Cottonseed was a garbage in 1860, a fertilizer in 
1870, a cattle food in 1880, a table food and many 
things else in 1890. 

"The manufacture of cottonseed oil and all of its 
resultant by-products furnishes one of the best ex- 
amples of development based upon the utilization 
of a waste product. Eventually the entire cottonseed 


crop will be worked through the cotton oil mills, with 
the exception of the amount reserved for planting." 
This prediction is now fulfilled; its accom- 
plishment is due chiefly to Daniel A. Tompkins, who 
.. may justly be called the Father of the Southern 
Cotton Oil Industry. 



THE building of Southern cotton mills for 
spinning and weaving was a long-cherished 
purpose of Tompkins. He says in his me- 
moirs, "While I was yet in the North, working as 
machinist and draftsman in the Bethlehem Iron 
Works, I wrote many times to machinery builders 
in New England about the possibility of estabhshing 
cotton mills in the South. Poor as the South then 
was, I was impressed with the fact that she was in- 
dulging in cut-throat competition in the almost 
universal process of cotton raising. I thought that 
if a portion of the people could go to the manufac- 
turing of cotton instead of raising it, the result would 
be a better market for the crop and a better price. 
It seemed wonderful to me how wedded to one pur- 
suit the South had become through the institution 
of slavery and cheap labor. 

"When there was added to this the confusion and 
iniquity of the reconstruction period, it was more 
and more clear that what the South needed was for 
her white folks to go to work and increase their manu- 
factures in any way available, in order to relieve the 
competition of cotton production. I thought if these 
new principles could be introduced, the South ought 
to become a very prosperous country. It was be- 
cause of this opinion that I gave up my work in the 
North and went South again." 



^\Tien Tompkins returned South the development 
of manufactures had already begun in many direc- 
tions, as indicated in his letter to the Manufacturers^ 
Record. Industrial plants were springing up here 
and there for the manufacture of cotton, iron, 
lumber, tobacco, and other raw material; coal 
and other minerals were being mined; truck farming 
was growing rapidly in extent and efficiency; 
railway and steamship lines were developing; and 
the banking business was extending its power and 

But cotton industries, while growing steadily, did 
not arouse popular enthusiasm, for their influence 
on the popular imagination had been more depress- 
ing than inspiring. A cotton mill was not regarded 
as a desirable acquisition in the average Southern 
community. Aristocratic ideals of leisurely life 
on large plantations dominated social sentiment; 
and even the** poor whites" preferred a scant existence 
as free yeomen in the fields or woods to more lucra- 
tive employment in cotton mills. Their ideas of 
freedom were repugnant to the confinement and the 
continuity of work in cotton mills. Southern lead- 
ers generally were not hopeful of industrial progress 
based upon cotton industries. The overthrow of 
slavery seemed to foreshadow the overthrow of 
cotton. Although the cotton crop was steadily 
increasing, its value did not increase. The general 
despondency about cotton was so great that some 
writers maintained that **it was and always had been 
a curse to the South, and the South were well rid of it 

Not so Tompkins. Although he had long resolved 
upon a career in iron, a resolution based upon natural 
inclination and early training in his father's black- 


smith shop, a resolution strengthened and confirmed 
by his long apprenticeship in the Troy and Bethlehem 
Iron Works, yet, when he stood facing the great prob- 
lem of Southern development, he reasoned it out 
that cotton, the South 's greatest product in the past 
and the basis of the power of the Old South, was the 
natural basis upon which to build the New South 
of manufactures, commerce, and diversified agricul- 
ture. Having reached this conclusion, he gave him- 
self heart, soul, and body to its fulfilment. The ideas 
involved in it he elaborated, exemplified, illustrated, 
and proclaimed to the world, in a thousand ways, on 
a thousand occasions. He never ceased to think/ 
write, and talk cotton. 

"Cotton is king again," he declared; "Not cotton 
in the fields but cotton in the mills. 

"Not only is cotton the world's greatest plant, 
but the production by the South of ten million bales 
of cotton in one crop is the world's greatest agricul- 
tural achievement. 

"The cotton plant supplies more of the necessities 
of the human race than is supplied from any other 
single source. 

"Food, clothing, and shelter; these are the prime 
needs of mankind. We have now from the cotton 
plant the following: 

"1. For Food, — Cottonseed oil, which, when pure 
and well refined, is in all respects equal to olive oil, 
and when it contains 10 per cent, of olive oil, simply 
to give it a flavor, cannot be distinguished from 
olive oil even by experts. Cottonseed meal, as 
food for cattle, sheep, and many other animals; in this 
way it contributes to our supply of beef, mutton, 
milk, butter, wool, etc., etc. 

"2. For Clothing. — The infinite fabrics that are 


made of cotton for human clothing, domestic articles, 
wadding for clothes, quilts, etc., etc. 

3. For Shelter. — Tents, awnings, and sails of ships, 
roofs of houses, etc., etc." 

Wherever opportunity presented, he proclaimed 
Ihese ideas. He spoke in every Southern state to 
gatherings of business men, capitalists, laborers, 
planters, farmers, teachers, and politicians. His 
contributions to Southern newspapers were almost 
endless. With energy, enthusiasm, and ceaseless 
activity he waged an industrial war. He vas as 
tireless as a general in charge of actual war. His 
speech in Atlanta before the Southern Industrial 
League, a fair type of his speeches during this cam- 
paign and a model of patriotic appeal and logical 
argument, sets forth briefly but clearly the possi- 
bilities of cotton manufacture in the South. 


"A passenger once fell overboard a Mississippi 
River steamboat at a point where the river was about 
two miles wide and looked as though it might be a 
mile deep. The man couldn't swim, and was nat- 
urally very much frightened. He was floundering 
about, and seemed in imminent danger of drowning. 
The pilot from the first kept shouting to him, 'Stand 
up!' and when he finally did make him understand, 
and the man stood up, he foimd that the water was 
not over knee deep. 

"Many of our troubles are very much like the 
troubles of this man. If we knew the surroundings, 
or could in any way find out just what to do, we 
would be able to escape a sea of trouble by simply 
standing up. The purpose of my talk to-day will be 


to show that the life-saving thing for the cotton 
farmer is the cotton factory. 

*'The South is in a period of transition. Whoever 
fails to recognize this fact not only hazards his suc- 
cess in life, but does serious injustice in misleading 
his children. 

"In the period immediately succeeding the Civil 
War the people of the South suffered least from the 
loss of their property. In that succeeding period, 
lasting from one to two decades, there was an un- 
ceasing struggle with anarchy amidst the wreck of 
former conditions. The contrast tended all the time 
to waste the energies and destroy the hopes of a 
people who in more ways than one have exhibited 
a most enduring courage. 

" Those adverse conditions are all past. The worst 
of them began to pass away about two decades ago. 
At the beginning of the Spanish- American War they 
had faded into insignificance. Before the end of that 
war the last of the shadows had disappeared. The 
South has now reached that condition in which she 
has the prospect of as perfect freedom from disorder 
and uncertainty as ever before in her history. The 
time has now come for us to take our bearings, see 
where we stand, and lay out our course for the future. 

"Naturally the cotton plant appears as the basis 
of our most extended industries. We could not ex- 
port seed cotton, and so we developed a large ginning 
interest to put our cotton in marketable shape. Now 
we are realizing that ginning the cotton is but one 
short step toward putting it in the most profitable 
shape for market. 

"Ten million bales of cotton in the seed has prac- 
tically no market value in that shape. Put up in 
ginners' bales it has a local value; put up in com- 


pressed bales, it has a universal value of say 
$400,000,000. Manufactured into fine sheetings, 
at the present market valuation, it would be worth 
$1,200,000,000, an increase of 200 per cent. Manu- 
factured into fine organdies, it would have a value 
of $12,000,000,000, and in finer goods, still more. 

"Of course the world would not take the entire 
crop in the shape of any one kind of goods, but it 
will take it in the manufactured state, in some of the 
manifold styles intermediate between the above 
values, so that it is safe to say that a 10,000, 000-bale 
crop is ultimately retailed as cloth for $5,000,000,000. 

"The question to be settled by the communities 
which produced this raw cotton is: How much of it 
they are willing to part with at $40 a bale, when it 
ultimately sold at $500. And up to what price per 
bale are they prepared to bring it by their industry 
and skill in manufacturing.? 

" Cotton is now, as of old, the great resource of the 
South. We make in round numbers 10,000,000 bales 

"This, at six cents per pound, yields $300,000,000. 
Years ago 5,000,000 bales at twelve cents also yielded 
$300,000,000. These figures naturally bring us to 
ask ourselves what gain have we made in producing 
10,000,000 instead of 5,000,000 bales. They lead 
us to talk and write about curtailing the production 
in order to stimulate the price. 

"As a matter of fact, the production of 10,000,000 
bales of cotton, w^here we formerly made 5,000,000, 
is an immense gain. It is only by producing more 
and more cotton at cheaper prices that we still control 
the cotton business of the world. If we should 
produce less, or if we could stimulate the price, the 
cotton supply of the world would be furnished by 


other countries. India is pushing us closer to-day 
than ever before in the production of cotton. The 
stimulated price would at once stimulate the produc- 
tion in India, Egypt and South America, Turkestan 
and other countries. The world needs an increasing 
quantity of cotton, and there are other people in 
the world who have suitable land and who will 
supply the demand at current prices if we do not 
do it. 

"If we rely upon cotton production alone we have 
before us the prospect of being under the necessity 
of increasing crops at cheaper prices. Failing in this, 
we must lose the monopoly. But it would seem to 
be useless to fight to hold a monopoly that means 
more and more work for less and less money. 

*'If we stop with the production, the prospect 
is not bright; but by the manufacture of this cotton, 
and finding markets for the manufactured article 
every class of people in the South is immeasurably 

"Let us assume that an average Southern state 
produces 1,000,000 bales. This crop at six cents 
would yield $30,000,000. 

"If made into cloth worth an average of eighteen 
cents, the yield would be $90,000,000, yielding a profit 
to the state of $60,000,000. 

"This profit would be almost entirely in the shape 
of actual money coming from foreign markets or other 
parts of this country. Much of it would go for wages 
of course, but it would go to home people who have 
now scant opportunity to make wages. Much of 
it would go for foodstuffs that the working people 
would consume; but the farmer would get this money 
for potatoes, chickens, eggs, butter, milk, fruit, and 
a lot of other perishable stuff which now rots on the 


farm for want of a market, or which might be made, 
but is not, for want of a market. 

"Out of the increased supply of money brought 
into the state the farmer would probably get the 
greater proportion of it all. The price of cotton to a 
farmer is always a little better in a factory town than 
in an ordinary cotton market. The farmer would, 
of necessity, get the money paid by the operatives 
for almost their entire living. 

"The average price of eighteen cents for manufac- 
tured goods is about what the cloth would be worth in 
the shape of plain white cloth and ordinary plaids 
and ginghams. This price is by no means the limit of 
what might be reached. With knowledge and skill 
cotton can be put into cloth worth thirty-six cents, 
seventy-two cents, and even still higher figures. 

"We have seen that a crop which in the raw state 
is worth $30,000,000 easily may be made worth 
$90,000,000. This same crop at thirty-six cents 
would yield $180,000,000, and seventy-two cents, 
$360,000,000, or more than the entire crop of the 
South is now worth in bales at current market prices. 

"Nothing is necessary for the accomplishment of 
this result except intelligent thought and persistent 
labor. The labor now wasted in the South is some- 
thing appalling. As the more intelligent and re- 
sponsible element of our people were formerly 
discouraged by the anarchy that succeeded the Civil 
War, so all labor in the South became discouraged for 
want of regular work at fair cash wages. There is 
now no longer excuse for either of these conditions. 
The intelligent and responsible part of each commun- 
ity ought to formulate plans to take hold of some 
manufacturing interest to an extent to engage their 
own time and talents, and to furnish regular and 


profitable occupation to home labor. Then discourage 
all habits of loafing, and any working community 
cannot help but prosper; but so long as the loafing 
habit lives in any community, there can be no pros- 
perity in that community. 

"We all know that a great number of farmers now 
work scarcely one hundred days in the year. With 
this much labor they produce a cotton crop. The 
factory employee works three hundred days in the 
year. This leaves the farmer with two hundred less 
working days than the factory operative. With a 
ready cash market for all perishable farm products 
there would be ample encouragement for the farmer 
to fill out his three hundred days with some profitable 
work. This additional work would not be drudgery, 
nor unpleasant. It would, of course, be work to drive 
into town with a lot of fruit, vegetables, and other 
farm products, and sell them out in a factory village 
for two, four, or more dollars; but there is nothing 
unpleasant or irksome about such work, and the 
various sums so obtained, and obtainable any day 
in the year, would help out mightily in producing 
cotton at a price that would compete with the India 
man and the Egyptian. In fact, in the southeast, 
where the manufacture of cotton is well-established, 
many farmers make more money out of their mis- 
cellaneous crops that they sell to the factory popula- 
tion, than out of their entire cotton crop. 

**If we contemplate the manufacture of the entire 
crop of the South, the figures become stupendous. 
For example: 

10,000,000 bales at 6 cts. per yard. $ 300,000,000 
10,000,000 bales at 18 cts. per yard. $ 900,000,000 
10,000,000 bales at 36 cts. per yard. $1,800,000,000 


"For any such results as these we have not yet the 
population. Even that part of the population we 
already have would need much in the way of educa- 
tion and training before any very large proportion of 
it could be put to work. But the figures show what 
an opportunity is before us. Each of us ought to do 
our utmost for the promotion of manufactures and 
for the education and training of the coming genera- 
tion in the manufacture of cotton. 

"The sentiment in this direction is growing con- 
spicuously. I attended not long ago a meeting of the 
Southern Press Association held at Richmond, Va. 
This subject of growing interest in industrial develop- 
ment was discussed at length, and it was the general 
sentiment that the rules as to what constituted news 
needed revision. In the past the rule was that 
murder, rape, arson, and politics were news. It was 
agreed that in the future the rule should be that 
Christian progress, education, manufactures, and 
commerce should be news. The idea is that benefi- 
cent works rather than crime shall be news. 

"It is a growing idea that as the papers follow up 
their work in the lines indicated a great move will be 
made in the dissemination of reading matter that will 
benefit the people instead of that which feeds morbid 

"As to our production. All the cotton now made 
is manufactured by somebody. The world's require- 
ment seems to be increasing, and we seem to be as 
well situated to make the yarn and cloth as to pro- 
duce the cotton. It would seem as if the limit of our 
manufacturing interests is simply the labor we have, 
and can get, until we manufacture all our own 
production. Such an ultimate result could only come 
after long time and after vast improvements in our 


educational system. But the opening is ready for an 
immediate beginning, and is wide open for indefinite 

"The undertaking of turning all our cotton into 
cloth is not as great as would at first appear. The 
factories in North Carolina now manufacture about 
300,000 bales of cotton into cloth and yarn a year. 
For this work there are employed in round numbers 
30,000 operatives. This work is done with about 
one million spindles. It must be understood, of 
course, that I speak in figures that are even and 
somewhat approximate, but that are near enough the 
exact figures to illustrate this argument with reason- 
able accuracy. 

"In order to manufacture the entire cotton crop of 
the South into plain white and coarse colored goods 
there would be required something like 30,000,000 
spindles and 1,000,000 operatives. The population of 
the Southern States may be reckoned at 20,000,000. 
Does anybody doubt that out of this 20,000,000 there 
is idle time enough wasted, even by those who would 
be willing to work, to furnish 1,000,000 good opera- 
tives in cotton factories .^^ Go into any ordinary 
cotton market town where no cotton factories have as 
yet been built, and at any time from 7 a. m. to 10 p. m. 
count the people who are loafing, and the number 
found would more than make up the quota of people 
for its share of the workers necessary to manufacture 
the cotton crop. This loafing habit; this super- 
abundance of people who are capable of working but 
who are loafing in the country and in towns where 
there are no factories, is conspicuous by comparison 
with the town where manufacturing enterprises have 
been established. By the same comparison the 
dilapidation of the houses is conspicuous; the poverty 


of the farmers in the adjacent country and the 
wretched condition of the roads are more than con- 

"Happily these old conditions are passing away. 
In many sections they have already passed away. 
The people of the South are naturally enterprising 
and resourceful. In the early days of the republic 
the South was the manufacturing end of the union. 
The first steamship ever to cross the ocean went out 
of Savannah. The South Carolina railway, when it 
was building, was the greatest engineering enterprise 
of the world. According to the United States census 
of 1810, the manufactured products of Virginia, the 
Carolinas, and Georgia, exceeded in value and variety 
those of the entire New England States. This is 
mentioned in no disparagement of New England but 
rather to show that our forefathers were men of 
enterprise and that they had confidence to venture 
on their own judgment. They never waited for 
somebody to come from somewhere and develop 
their resources for them. If they thought a cotton 
factory or a railroad would be a good thing they 
built it. The only mistake they made was in think- 
ing that the colored brother as a slave was a good 
thing. The growth of slavery dried up a well- 
develoi>ed manufacturing tendency in the South. 

"Now slavery is gone, the last vestige of that 
anarchy that succeeded the Civil War is also now 
gone. Wherever the people have recovered some- 
thing of the confidence of their forefathers in enter- 
prise they have prospered beyond their own ex- 
pectations or hopes. 

"The South has put the manufacture of iron on an 
export basis. The cotton oil industry has been 
developed on an export basis. The South has in 


these things set the pace and made the prices to 
which the manufacturers of the North must go and 
come. If we but utihze the resources we now have, 
and put to work the idle labor now in every un- 
developed section of the South, we may supply 
from cotton-growing states the cloth for the vast 
markets in different parts of the world that are 
now furnished from the manufactories of England 
and Germany. 

" In all that we do we want to cooperate with and 
not antagonize our friends in New England and 
other parts of the North. For the sale of our goods 
we must rely much upon the development of foreign 
markets. In the future it will not be a domestic 
fight over home products. The foreign markets we 
must seek give outlet enough for the products of the 
North and South both. It is important that the 
people of the whole nation shall work together to 
acquire and develop these markets. 

"Practically all native people in the South are 
farmers. The manufacturing now being done by 
Southern people furnished evidence of the facility 
with which the Southern farmer extends his opera- 
tions. Almost every Southern man who has gone 
into manufacturing is still a farmer, and will continue 
to be so. The escape of the cotton farmer from 
approaching poverty is not in trying to curtail 
production and increase the price, but in devising 
means to keep the cheap cotton at home, and utilizing 
surplus time in turning it into cloth worth eighteen 
cents and upward per pound. 

" For more than a quarter of a century the political 
and social conditions in the South have been very 
unfavorable for the development of material in- 
terests. The generation that is now passing away 


has withstood a test of Anglo-Saxon civilization — 
fighting against the strong prejudices of other 
people of their own blood living at a distance, and 
against semi-barbaric influences at home that were 
supported and urged on by those prejudices. This 
contest is well nigh over. It is no wonder that during 
its progress so little advance was made in material 
prosperity; but it is a wonder that the production of 
cotton has kept ahead of that of other advancing 
cotton-growing countries. This result alone, together 
w^ith the saving of civilization and the preservation 
of the social status of the South, shows the ability of 
the people of the South to carry to the maximum 
limit the white man's burden. In the same time 
Egypt and India, both under English control, have 
been pushing forward in the production of cotton, 
becoming our serious competitors. 

"For the coming generation the way to prosperity 
is wide open and plain. The passing generation has 
won the fight against anarchy and left to their 
children a heritage more valuable than any riches. 
It is now simply a question of redemption from 
poverty. To do this we must combine farming and 
manufacturing. The factories will require opera- 
tives, who in turn must have foodstuffs, which will 
make a market for the farmer's supplies. Cotton 
can then be made cheap, because diversified crops, 
which can be sold for cash, will bring in a supple- 
mental income. Indeed the time may come when 
cotton will be the surplus crop instead of being, as 
now, the main crop. 

"It is my firm belief that in the near future no 
community can afford to be without its cotton 
factory, its cottonseed oil mill, and its fertilizer 
works. With these the cotton may be tripled in 


value, the cottonseed tripled in value, and the farm 
tripled in value. 

"Now let us formulate what the farmer ought to do 
about this matter of cotton manufacture. Most of 
them are not in position to build factories; yet the 
subject rests almost entirely in the hands of the 
farmer. I formulate the required action necessary 
by farmers as follows: 

"1. — Create and maintain an untarnished credit. 
Keep all contracts inviolate and sacred. The com- 
mercial strength of England lies more than in any 
other one thing in the perfect faith which England 
and the English people maintain with those with 
whom they deal. The true Englishman never 
repudiates an obligation, even though he gets nothing 
in return from what he has contracted to pay for a 
railroad that was never built. I hold, however, that 
if the debt was honestly created and the chances 
taken, it is both good moral principle and good in- 
vestment to fulfil the promise. 

" If we would turn our cotton into cloth, we must, 
of necessity, go into the markets of the world, and a 
reputation for fair dealing and fulfillment of all 
contracts is the first prerequisite to an established 
trade with the miscellaneous nations of the world. 

" 2. — We must develop and maintain our shipping. 
We must have a merchant marine and a navy to 
protect it. We have reached that point in our indus- 
trial development when, if we extend our manu- 
factures further, we must have more markets. You 
have built railroads by subsidies. There is hardly a 
town, county, or state that has not contributed in 
bonds or in money or in lands or the use of streets to 
the construction of one or more railroads. Almost 
every railroad in the United States has had more or 


less bounty money to aid in its construction. Towns 
vie with each other to-day in offering bounties to 
obtain new lines of roads, and everybody feels that it 
pays to do so. Yet there is an incomprehensible 
prejudice against giving even a fair mail contract to a 
new line of vessels to a foreign country. England 
and Germany are willing enough to send their 
subsidized ships here after our five-cent cotton. 
They will never permit them to come for our fifteen- 
cent cloth. These countries want to hold the 
manufacture and hold the trade. We must have our 
own ships, as we must also have a navy to protect 

"3. — WTierever there are markets for our manu- 
factured goods we need American banking facilities. 
We must have a money upon which the people of all 
the world can rely. The American five-dollar bill 
must, at all times and under all circumstances, be as 
good as the English pound sterling. 

"The farmer by his influence and vote can bring 
about these conditions. In bringing them about he 
is multiplying by three the value of his cotton and, 
tripling the value of his lands. It is in this way 
that the monopoly in the production of cotton can be 
held. It is the way prosperity can be brought to the 
South, and maintained for all time. 

"The Civil War made your fathers a poor people. 
The quarter-century fight you have made for civili- 
zation has made you a sturdy, self-reliant people. 
The prejudices of those of your own blood throughout 
this period of anarchy and disorder have made you a 
patient people. The year of jubilee is now come and 
the time is ripe for the farmer to join hands with the 

"Help to establish manufactures at home, and help 


to get foreign markets and ships and bring back from 
abroad three dollars and upward where we now 
bring back one. Add to the heritage of Anglo- 
Saxon civilization which you have saved for your 
children a combined system of farming and manu- 
facturing with the necessary facilities for a world- 
wide commerce, so that they may become rich and 
prosperous as their grandparents once were." 

Tompkins possessed in a high degree talents for 
thought, for speech, and for action. Had he confined 
himself to a single career, he might have achieved 
eminence as a public speaker, as a writer on political 
economy, or as an industrial builder and promoter. 
With a calm philosophy worthy of Lincoln he says, 
"The Civil War made your fathers a poor people. 
The quarter-century fight you have made for civiliza- 
tion has made you a sturdy, self-reliant people. 
The prejudices of those of your own blood throughout 
this period of anarchy and disorder have made you a 
patient people." With the joyful enthusiasm of a 
preacher he shouts, "The year of jubilee has now 
come and the time is ripe for the farmer to join hands 
with the manufacturer." With the practical wisdom 
of Franklin he says, "Help to establish manufactures 
at home, and help to get foreign markets and ships 
and bring back from abroad three dollars and up- 
wards where we now bring back one." He concludes 
his great speech with a tribute to Southern fortitude 
in defying the Reconstruction policy of Northern 
fanatics and with a patriotic appeal to Anglo-Saxon 





THE building of cotton mills and cotton oil 
mills was carried on by Tompkins during a 
period of twenty years and was extended 
throughout the Soutlil IT was greatly facilitated by 
his work as a builder and distributor of mill 
machinery and mill supplies. The D. A. Tompkins 
Company, of which he was president and general 
manager, beginning with one man and a small kit of 
tools, developed into one of the largest and probably 
the most unique of manufacturing plants in the 
South. Through its own work in Charlotte and its 
partnership with mills and factories in New England 
and Ohio the D. A. Tompkins Company was enabled 
to furnish on a very large scale all machinery and 
supplies essential to cotton mills, cotton oil mills, 
fertilizer factories, electric light and power plants, 
water works, and other power-producing or power- 
economizing industries. It was the base of supplies 
for Tompkins' industrial operations throughout the 

The building up of this company is a monument to 
his energy, skill, executive ability, foresight, 
patriotism, and broad humanitarianism. He loved 
to tell the story of it; and he told it over and over 
again, not only in speeches, books, and newspaper 



articles but even in advertisements, which were in- 
tended to be lessons for the youth of Charlotte and 
the South. The story carries to young men every- 
where the assurance that success will always crown 
merit. From hundreds of advertisments in Southern 
newspapers the following selections are but samples 
of his endless sermons on thrift, industry, character, 
hopefulness, intelligence, self-reliance, and efficiency: 


"It is now something like fourteen years since 
there came to Charlotte a mechanic who was looking 
for a place to go into business for himself. He had 
been considered where he came from as a good 
machinist, and had also had a good training as a 
draftsman and designer of machinery. He had the 
promise of an agency for an engine. 

"Working as a machinist or draftsman in a large 
iron works he had been well at home, but in the 
business world, on ever so small a scale, he was 
tolerably awkward. There wasn't very much 
mechanical employment around here in those days, 
nevertheless this machinist and draftsman hired a 
room, got an engine sent on— just one engine for 
stock, and struck out for business. Things looked 
squally for quite awhile afterward. The new busi- 
ness man was ready for anything that would bring 
enough pay for wages and store rent. He did some 
surveying on the streets and laid out the grades of 
most of the pavements in the central part of the city, 
commencing at the public square. The pay for this 
work was not very much, but it went a long way 
toward keeping the pot boiling. After awhile an 
engine or two was sold, and the scant profit with all 


the wages for setting up and starting up the engines 
helped along very considerably. The man was sales- 
man and machinist, both, for all that he did. He had 
very few tools, and most of the piping about an 
ordinary engine was put together with a trace chain 
and a stick for pipe tongs. The smaller pipe was cut 
by hand and put together with a Stillson wrench. A 
small set of pipe taps, with one stock, a hammer, and 
chisel or two, a trace chain and a stout stick were 
about all the tools available for putting up an or- 
dinary ginning engine and its outfit. 

*'Once in a while he would do some surveying for 
private parties, locating a lot; and would earn wages 
for a day or two. The business wasn't very promis- 
ing, and it often looked as if the next month or two 
might wind it up. But each new month brought 
enough new work of one kind and another to keep 
things going. After a considerable time and by 
inappreciable degrees things got better. The jobs 
came easier and the pay improved. Customers 
generally liked the results they got, and some of the 
first ones began to come again. It gradually came so 
that there was less work hunting for work, and it 
required more hustle to keep up with the work that 

"After a year or more a good business man ob- 
served that there was more work and opportunity 
than there was capital to handle it. He offered to 
take an interest in a quiet way and furnish some 
capital to handle the business. A trade was made 
and then it was a partnership for a considerable 

"Later still a corporation was formed and that's 
how the business of the Tompkins Company was 
founded and built up. 


"In those early days, if we had ever let up, the 
business would have ended. As good luck would 
have it, the mechanic kept in good health. It looks 
now, and it looked then, too, as if at any time in the 
first two or three years a spell of sickness would have 
ended the venture. It was good luck, too, that this 
proved to be a country of valuable undeveloped 
resources; and the gradual development of those 
helped us. Perhaps we were of some value in helping 
to push on this development. Anyway, we are still 
here, and are still having some hand in this develop- 
ment, which is still going forward." 


"The growth of the United States and the develop- 
ment of her resources is the wonder of the twentieth 
century. This growth and development began with 
the coming of the Anglo-Saxon to the New World. 
The first establishment in America of an Anglo- 
Saxon colony was at Roanoke Island on the coast of 
North Carolina. This was in 1585 and the move- 
ment was under the direction of Sir Walter Raleigh. 

"Before the ships which brought this party over 
returned to England there was born a baby who was 
named Virginia Dare. This girl was the first native 
American of Anglo-Saxon parentage. 

"Years afterward a colony was established at 
Jamestown in Virginia, in which there was John Smith 
of Pocahontas fame. 

"Years afterward the Puritans landed at Ply- 
mouth, in Massachusetts. 

"When the ships that brought over the Roanoke 
party went back to England they were detained and 
it was two years before they returned to America. 


When the ships did return, the colony was gone — no- 
body knew where. 

" There is now an area in North Carohna of about 
ten miles square inhabited by a race of people known 
as the Croatan Indians. They are not like other 
Indians. They resent fiercely any attempt to class 
them as negroes. They have many of the qualities of 
the Anglo-Saxon. Living within two or three days' 
march of where the first colony of Anglo-Saxons ever 
settled, the civilization of the white man has de- 
stroyed or driven out all other Indians. This Croatan 
tribe has not only been skipped in the progress of 
civilization, but there seems to be as many of them 
to-day as there were a hundred years ago. 

"There is a legend that the Croatans took the part 
of the white people when they were attacked by 
unfriendly Indians. Being driven away from the 
first settlement, the whites and the friendly Croatans 
retreated together to where the Croatans now live. 

"In any event, the first settlement of the Anglo- 
Saxons on American soil was on the coast of North 
Carolina. The State has seen many changes since. 
These changing events have been somewhat as fol- 
lows: (1) Conquest of the country and its settle- 
ment. (2) Development of agriculture and fair 
commerce and manufactures. (3) Development of 
slavery and cotton production and neglect of manu- 
factures. (4) Civil War and abolition of slavery. 
(5) Revival of manufactures and commerce and 
improvement of farming methods. 

" It was here in the Old North State that the first 
settlement was made looking to the dev^elopment of 
an English-speaking nation. The State has had her 
ups and downs in fortune, but it looks now as though 
her misfortunes might be in the past. She is making 


good headway, and our machine shops and the 
business we are doing is one of the small factors in 
the State's progress." 


"Investigation has shown that in the latter part of 
the eighteenth and in the early part of the nineteenth 
centuries Carolinians had about as much, or perhpas 
more, mechanical resource and manufacturing ability 
than the people of any other part of the United 
States. In the Piedmont region there were numerous 
blast furnaces, rolling mills, foundries, hollow-ware 
works (pots, ovens, skillets, etc.); nail works, rifle 
factories, woollen mills, and other industrial enter- 

"Just before, during, and after the Revolutionary, 
War, the wrought bar iron from Piedmont forges 
found a market in Boston. The rifles made in the 
home factories were an important factor in deter- 
mining the outcome of the American Revolution. 
These same rifles were also important factors in 
dealing with the Indian and the bear both at home 
and on the frontier in Kentucky and Tennessee, 
where many Carolinians of daring spirit went to seek 
adventure, and to stand a bulwark for the protection 
of advancing civilization. 

"Whether it was a bear on the Piedmont slopes, an 
Indian in Kentucky, or an invading British foe, it was 
of life-and-death importance for the American to have 
a rifle that would shoot without fail, and shoot 
straight. Those made by the mechanics of the 
Piedmont region could be relied on, and they stood in 
high favor. Other manufactured products made 
by the mechanics of the Carolinas of the eighteenth 


century — this most ancient and honorable order 
of American mechanics — were also first class and 
stood in high favor with consumers or users. In 
time came slavery and the downfall of the mechanic 
in the Piedmont region. 

"Then came the Civil War and the downfall of 

"Then came the so-called Reconstruction period 
with twenty-five years of anarchy and almost hope- 
less endeavor to save civilization in the Carolinas. 

"Then came the restoration of stable and honest 

"This being attained, people began to look about 
for profitable employment. The occupation of the 
fathers — agriculture with slave labor — being gone, 
they fell, more or less naturally, as a sort of heritage, 
into the occupations of their grandfathers and great- 
grandfathers. One tried cotton manufacture, another 
the machine business, another undertook to make 
wagons, another carriages and buggies, another 
furniture, etc., etc. 

"The great-grandson found that though these 
abilities were dormant in his family through the 
period of slavery, he could develop, with very little 
practice, the same old twist of the wrist which the 
great-grandfather had. 

"The descendant of the old rifle-maker is just as 
good a mechanic as the old rifle-maker himself was. 
The great-grandson of the wagon -maker of 1790 is 
making just as good wagons in 1902 as the old man 
made in the second century before. 

"More than fifty of these descendants make up the 
bulk of the organization in our new shops and keep 
its wheels turning. There is a moderate proportion 
of good men from other parts of the United States 


also incorporated in the organization. It makes a 
strong combination. The Piedmont mechanic of 
the eighteenth century did superb work. Our or- 
ganization does just as good work. We study 
modern requirements and keep up with the twentieth 
century times. 

"The cotton yarn reels, which we make to-day in 
our ship, are just as much of a success as Daniel 
Boone's rifle was. Our cottonseed huller is made 
for a purpose that those old fellows of the eighteenth 
century never conceived of; but it is of just as high- 
class design and workmanship for the requirements of 
these modern times as the mountain and frontier 
wagons were for the day and generation in which they 
were built and used. In those old days, they used 
to mix sizing in a bucket and put it on the warp with 
a brush. In our shop we build a size kettle in which 
sizing is so well mixed that it is like an emulsion — 
saturates the yarn and never falls off. 

"They had no steam engines in those old days. 
That's the reason the rolling mills were all on water- 
powers, as at Clifton, Henrietta, High Shoals, 
Cherokee, and other places. 

"We wish one of the mechanics of 1775 could see 
one of the modern Corliss engines operate after we 
have overhauled it and put it in good order. Or look 
through our shop and see the electric drive and the 
beating by exhaust steam. Or see our new foundry, 
and compare the way we make castings with the way 
they used to make them." 


"When the founders of the Tompkins Company 
business first landed in Charlotte there was mighty 


little doing. The principal merchants occupied much 
of their time sitting in chairs in front of their stores, 
sometimes whittling, sometimes playing checkers or 
backgammon, and sometimes gossiping. These mer- 
chants came to their stores early and went away late. 
Long hours and little work was the rule. The little 
work was because there wasn't much to do. 

*'How things have changed since then, not only in 
Charlotte, but in the whole South. In those old 
languid days the dogs didn't get up to bark. If they 
saw or heard anything that they thought ought to be 
barked at they lay still, and barked lying down. It 
was probably the same m Greenville. 

"Then there were two machine shops in Charlotte, 
one doing no miscellaneous work but making 

"Then there was one cotton mill in Charlotte; 
now there are twenty. Then the colored people 
monopolized the business of barbering; now it is well 
nigh monopolized by white barbers. Then the busi- 
ness man took his hat off to the banker; now the 
banker doffs to the business man and finds that he 
likes it; the business man appreciates the courtesy 
more than the old-fashioned banker did. 

"In those days the Tompkins Company's assets 
was a kit of machinists' tools and the whole organiza- 
tion was a founder and a cheap helper. There were 
no debts because the banker couldn't see any basis of 
credit in the kit of tools — there was value all the 
same, but it wasn't in tangible shape for a banker to 
realize on. 

"Gradually we built up a business and then 
facilities to do the business. We could get a little 
more business and then a new tool, more business, an- 
other new tool, and so the building has been going on 


until we now have a large foundry and two large 
machine shops — all out of that original kit of ma- 
chinists' tools. 


"Our business has been built up by work and not 
by money. There wasn't any money to start with. 

"The reason is that the fellow who can do things 
is the master and not the servant of capital. Capital 
seeks the man w ho can do things a heap more than he 
ever has to seek capital. 

"We are not only getting a good home trade and a 
growing one, but our territory is extending nicely 
above the Potomac. 

"Something like 100 years ago North Carolina 
made wrought iron, much of which found a market 
in New England. 

"We are helping to bring about the old condition. 
We have had several orders from New England for 
the products of our shops and we have a good trade in 
the Middle States." 


"The cry of the industrial world is for men who can 
actually do something. We have applicants every day 
by young men and old men who want 'positions.' 

"'What can you do.'^' is the first question we ask, 
because we really need men. We need right now 
four good machinists and two molders. These 
don't come along. If most of those who do come 
would answer our question in full frankness they 
would say, 'I can't do anything in particular with 
any degree of efficiency, except draw my "salary" and 
quit promptly when the whistle blows.' 


"It seems a pity we haven't a better system of 
training the boys and young men in a way to make 
them capable of actually doing something. A 
machinist apprenticeship can't hurt any boy, even 
though he expects to be a lawyer or a doctor. 

"There's plenty of time between school and 
college terms to give a boy or young man a practical 
apprenticeship. This time is usually worse than 
wasted. The boy not only fails to learn to do some 
useful thing, but does acquire idle habits, sometimes 
vicious habits. 

"Our view of the matter is that none of the school- 
ing would be omitted, but that a reasonable portion 
of the intervening time should be applied to learning 
some trade. It's as easy to teach a boy to love work 
with the result of capability as it is to let him drift 
into habits of idleness with the result of incapability." 


"The surest way to get a high position is to fill a 
modest one well. The restless and impatient man 
who neglects his work in quest of advancement 
is never advanced. The languid fellow whose mind 
wanders from his work to reveries of wealth and fame, 
he's no good. Yet speak of a good position at good 
pay, and there are at once applications from these 
restless, impatient, and languid fellows, while the 
sterling worker works on, and must be sought out 
and approached. 

"Training in early youth has a lot to do with it. 
A realization that all things come to him who works 
and waits has a lot more to do with it. 

"If the deficiencies were due to inherent fault in 
our people, there would be no use to speculate upon 


betterment. But there is no inherent fault. The 
youth should be trained and made to learn to work, 
developing at the same time skill and physical 
strength, and the young man should be taught that 
education entitles a man to nothing if he fails to 
accomplish something. 

"There are few people who may not be successful 
if in youth they have the right training and in young 
manhood they leam to have a wholesome reliance in 
patient and honest work." 


"The financier values a property according to the 
income it will bring in and the probability of this 
income being permanent. 

"On a basis of 6 per cent., a property that would 
bring in $75 a month would be worth $15,000. 

"There are many mechanics making $75 a month. 
Many make more. Some good machinists make $4 a 
day easily and regularly and not a few make $5. A 
locomotive engineer can make $125 to $175 a month. 

"These are wages of journeymen workmen and not 
bosses or superintendents. The figures represent the 
value of a trade. Capitalize these incomes on a 
basis of 6 per cent., and we find the value of skill in 
good workmen to be about as follows: 

Bricklayer, at $2 per day .... $10,000.00 

Carpenter, at $2.25 per day . . 

Holder, at $2.50 per day . . 

Pattern makers, at $2.75 per day 

Machinist, at $3 per day . . 

Machinist, at $4 per day 

Machinist, at $5 per day 

Locomotive engineers at $6 per day 



"These figures represent nice sums of money. As 
long as the mechanic Hves and enjoys health these 
little fortunes are more secure than if they were in 
cash and invested in property. 

"This capitalized value of a trade cannot be risked 
in a cotton speculation. Nothing but sickness or 
death depreciates these values. 

"If a man has the faculty of governing or directing 
men, he is far more apt to get the opportunity to 
exercise this faculty and get pay for it, if he knows a 
trade well, than if he does not. In selecting a 
superintendent for a cottonseed oil mill, the man 
who is a good mechanic is always selected by pref- 
erence, if other things are approximately equal. 

"In civil life the mechanic is as independent as 
the soldier in military life. The five-dollar-a-day 
mechanic is just as securely fixed for life, as to a 
living, as the one-hundred-and-twenty-five-dollar-a- 
month captain in the army. The captain may 
become a general. The machinist may remain 
machinist all his life, yet he may become proprietor 
of a factory. The special training stands not in the 
way of success, but promotes it." 


"We make apprenticeship contracts, the D. A. 
Tompkins Co. being first party and the boy and his 
parents being second party. The apprenticeship 
term is three years, the first six months is a trial 
period for both parties to the contract. We pay 60 
cents a day the first year, 75 cents the second year, 
and $1 the third and last year. 

"We don't require these young gentlemen to put 
in three years' continuous work. We rather prefer 


that they should not do so. We always give them 
leave of absence to attend school. After school term 
they come back and start where they left off. This 
makes us always crowded with boys in the summer. 
At present we are overrun because all the schools are 
out and all the apprentices want to work on their 
apprenticeship time at once. 

"We don't let the boys off for anything but a 
short vacation and for school. The system seems to 
be working well and those who have gone through 
this apprenticeship, and at the same time kept their 
education going, have come out in the end first-class 
journeymen w^orkmen and decently educated young 
gentlemen who can do things. 

"The trades in our shops are: (1) Machinists. 
(2) Pattern Makers. (3) Molders. (4) Drafts- 
men. (5) Electric Wiremen, and (6) Roll Coverers. 

"The combination of practical training and teach- 
ing makes the best man. It makes a man who knows 
how things ought to be done and who can do them." 

When working in the Bethlehem Iron Works 
Tompkins had written in his diary, "Someday I shall 
have a machine shop of my own, even if I make a 
start as a blacksmith at a country cross roads." His 
resolution was accomplished. D. A. Tompkins, 
engineer and machinist, has become the D. A. 
Tompkins Company, with large, well-equipped 
machine shops and foundry, builders and distributors 
of machinery for cotton industries, consulting 
and contracting engineers for the designing, con- 
structing, and equipping of cotton mills, cottonseed 
oil mills, fertilizer factories, and other industrial 

The building up of the D. A. Tompkins Company 
was in a measure the building up of cotton mills and 


cotton oil mills throughout the South. But its 
greatest value to the South was its demonstration: 

1. That the South had native talent equal to its 
task of industrial development. 

2. That this talent could easily be trained and 

3. That capital was available from abroad and 
easily multiplied at home. 

4. That a capable lad can begin at the bottom of 
the industrial ladder and climb to the top. 



A FTER much experience in constructing and 
ZJm operating cotton mills and cotton oil mills 
X A. Tompkins came to the belief that the mill 
business furnished an opportunity for cooperative 
investment by small communities or by men of 
small means in large communities. On reaching 
this conclusion he was not slow in putting it to the 
test. With characteristic energy he entered upon a 
campaign for cooperative mill building, flooding 
the press with literature, filling the mails with 
circulars, and canvassing personally wherever op- 
portunity presented. Facts and arguments for 
cooperative mill building were spread broadcast 
throughout the South. He made stirring appeals to 
local pride and local interest, showing the disad- 
vantages to a community of relying upon foreign 
capital in mill building and submitting to foreign 
control in mill management. He showed how any 
community by a little thrift, energy, and cooperation 
could build a cotton mill. 

"In most places," said he, "where a new mill is 
proposed, an idea is prevalent that if half the money 
is raised at home, then somebody from somewhere 
will furnish the other half. 

"Several years ago the builders of cotton mill 
machinery took stock in new mills as part payment 



for the machinery. This brought on numerous 
complications and trouble; and the practice has now 
been entirely abandoned. 

" Commission houses in the North who sell cotton 
mill products have often taken stock in new Southern 
mills. They do this of course mostly for the sake of 
controlling the sale of the mill's products. For 
while Southern mill stocks are always splendid prop- 
erty, there must always be some extra inducement 
for capital to seek investment in distant localities. 
A mill having a large part of its stock owned in this 
way is restricted in the sale of its products to one 
special market, which market might at some time not 
be the best for that particular kind of product. 

"All foreign capital is attracted to new enter- 
prises at a distance by some distinct motive, and is 
governed by well-defined laws. Large amounts of 
Northern money have been invested in Southern 
cotton mills, but they have been influenced by the 
motive above mentioned, or have been invested in 
stocks of mills already successful, or with men well 
known as successful manufacturers. The distant 
capitalist is attracted by success already accom- 
plished, and is not disposed to risk money to prove 
whether a new locality and a new people are both 
adapted to make a success of cotton manufacture. 
Success in a new mill or town, once established, often 
brings foreign capital without the asking. 

"The home capitalist is influenced largely by the 
same motive as the foreigner. He prefers for some- 
one else to make the experiment in manufacturing; 
if it is a failure, then he has escaped; if it is a success, 
then he can go in and buy the stock or start a new 
similar enterprise. 

"The average Southern town underestimates its 


ability to raise capital to build a cotton factory. 
Cotton mill property, like all other property, is 
cumulative. No town could raise the money at once 
to pay for all the property in it." 

After building several cooperative mills Tompkins 
drew up and published in pamphlet form his plan to 
raise capital. The pamphlet was extensively cir- 
culated throughout the South, was very generally 
copied in the newspapers, and published in various 
journals. It covers the ground of cooperative cotton 
mills, and is easily adaptable to any kind of co- 
operative industrial enterprise. 


"While working as a machinist, and in other 
capacities for the Bethlehem Iron Works, Bethlehem, 
Pa., I always carried some stock in one or more of the 
local Building and Loan Associations at Bethlehem. 

"Toward the latter part of my service with that 
company I devised plans for the organization of a 
Savings Fund and Building Association. The plan was 
that nine of my fellow workmen with myself should 
form an association for saving something out of our 
salaries and wages each month, and, putting these 
savings together, should use the fund — not to loan, but 
to build houses for rent and for holding as investment. 

"At $20.00 per month each the ten of us would pay 
into the Association $200 per month. With this we 
could soon have built a house, and then with the con- 
tinued payments and the rent from the first house we 
could soon have built another, and so on. We thought 
of continuing this process and also the use of rents for 
building for a period of ten years. Then we proposed 
to stop payments and use rents for dividends. 


"Two of my fellow workmen and I purchased 
something like thirty lots, having in view turning 
them over to this Association. 

*' Just before the time for organization of this little 
Savings Fund and Investment Association I moved 
away from Bethlehem and the plans were never 
executed. The thirty lots are yet undeveloped in 
Bethlehem, and are still the property of the two of 
us who survive and the estate of our third partner 
who has passed away. 

"After going into business in Charlotte, N. C, on 
my own account, I worked out a modification of the 
same plan for raising capital to build manufacturing 
plants, and published it in the Manufacturers^ 
Record of Baltimore and other periodicals. 

"This plan of raising or accumulating capital has 
been utilized for building 15 or 20 cotton mills in the 
South, principally in the Carolinas. 

"This pamphlet gives a synopsis of the general 
plan, as applied to building cotton mills. The illus- 
trations exhibit some of the mills which have been 
built by the use of the plan. 


"There are in successful operation in the southeast 
a number of cotton factories built by money raised 
on the installment plan as the payments are made in 
a building and loan association. The writer had 
observed that in many towns there was a strong 
desire amongst the people to build and operate a 
cotton factory, but conceived it impossible to raise 
the capital at home because, as a rule, few people in 
towns or small cities have much unemployed capital. 
It was further observed that in almost if not quite 


every one of these instances one or more building and 
loan associations were in operation with accumulated 
cash in excess of what was considered impossible to 
raise for the construction of a cotton factory. The 
conclusion was therefore reached that if a plan could be 
formulated by which a company could be organized 
whose capital stock was made payable in the shape of 
regular weekly or monthly saving, then any ordinary 
community could raise the money to build a factory. 

"Following out this line of thought it was found 
that with shares of one hundred dollars par value 
they could be paid in full as follows: 

(1) At the rate of one dollar per week per share the 
par value would be reached in a little less than two 
years. (2) At the rate of fifty cents per week the 
time would be a little less than four years. (3) At 
the rate of twenty -five cents per week the time would 
be a little less than eight years. All of these plans of 
payments have been tried at Charlotte, N. C, and 
in every case the result has been successful. 

"The plan (2) of fifty cents per week per share, it 
seems, is the most popular and the most suitable for all 
ordinary cases and places. At this rate the following 
would be the regular payments for about four years : 

On 1 share ($100), 50 cents per week or about 
$2.00 per month. 

On 5 shares ($500), $2.50 per week or about 
$10.00 per month. 

On 10 shares ($1,000), $5.00 per week or about 
$20.00 per month. 

On 25 shares ($2,500), $12.50 per week or about 
$50.00 per month. 

On 50 shares ($5,000), $25.00 per week or about 
^100.00 per month. 


"In organizing a company each subscriber for 
stock makes the payments as above indicated either 
by the week or month. 

"On the basis of subscriptions aggregating one 
hundred thousand dollars there would be paid the 
company each year about twenty-five thousand dol- 
lars. With this amount of money the buildings 
could be constructed and paid for in the first year. 
Within the second year one third the machiner}^ 
could be purchased and put in operation. In three 
years from the time of organization it would be 
usually possible to have the entire plant in operation 
with some debt, which could be paid off as the in- 
stallments were paid in the last year. 

"A capital of one hundred thousand dollars will 
build a mill of about five thousand spindles and two 
hundred looms which w^ould furnish work for about 
one hundred hands. These estimates are only given 
for the purpose of conveying the most general idea. 
There are infinite conditions that might vary any 
one of the items given, and therefore in each special 
case the general result might be different according 
to the cost of materia s and the kind of product 
desired to be made. 

"The illustrations and general data are taken from 
mills that have been built on the plan herein dis- 

"It goes without saying that the quickest time in 
which the capital can be accumulated is the best. If 
subscriptions can be procured on a basis of two dollars 
a week per share, thus making the capital payable in 
about one year, this would be the next best thing to 
having the money subscribed subject to call as it 
might be needed. Next to the rate of two dollars per 
week then one dollar per week would be desirable. 


Then follows fifty cents a week and twen^.y-five cents 
per week. 

*'The last-named rate, while it has been proven 
practicable in the case of a few mills, is undesirable, 
if the subscriptions can possibly be got to fifty cents 
per week or more. 

**The plan of fifty cents per week has been the 
most popular one, and it has in all cases worked well, 
the result having been dividend-paying manufactur- 
ing plants. 

"The completion of a mill may always be hastened 
beyond what could be done with ordinary income by 
borrowing money to complete the mill at once and 
then paying this money back as it is paid into the 
treasury in installments by the stockholders. Where- 
ever this has been done the mill company has com- 
monly made notes which have been made secure by 
indorsement of the directors. For this reason it is 
desirable to have a board of directors whose responsi- 
bility is well known. 

"Some mills have been built, however, simply by 
investing the money as it came from the members; 
and while this is somewhat slow, yet when the mill is 
finished and in operation, it is usually so much 
property ahead for the stockholders, for it frequently 
represents money that would not have been accumu- 
lated at all, except for the obligation of the stock- 
holders to get together and save so much money each 
week or month. 

"By the means of this plan any ordinary town has 
within itself the resources to establish a cotton 
factory. And besides establishing a factory the 
company is practically a savings institution for the 
people. Regular and systematic saving is probably 
the best of all means to accumulate money and at the 


same time encourage a spirit of thrift and cooperation 
amongst the people of any locality. Any good 
farmer could take one thousand dollars stock, paying 
two hundred and fifty out of each crop for four years. 

"A mill built on this plan, when once finished, is 
just as good property for the stockholders and does a 
town or city just as much good as if it had been built 
with money brought from elsewhere. In fact, it is 
more advantageous, as its construction develops a 
latent resource out of which further development is 
sure to come. 

*'The preliminary preparation for the organization 
of such a company in the way of preparing the right 
kind of character, by laws and subscription list, 
should be left to the engineer selected to make plans 
and guide the company in the conduct of its affairs. 

"It is very important for a company of inex- 
perienced people to select a good engineer and then 
rely upon his knowledge, skill, and judgment. Any 
attempt to build a mill without good counsel will be 
troublesome. Advice picked up here and there, 
free of charge, is worth just what it costs, viz., noth- 
ing. A good engineer will charge a good fair price, 
and will handle the matter just as a good lawyer 
would a lawsuit, or as a physician would handle a 
case of sickness. There are numbers of good en- 
gineers in the country whose records for successful 
work become a guarantee for the success of whatever 
they undertake. 

"By the plan herein explained those towns in 
which the people are waiting for some capitalist to come 
and to build a mill may help themselves and build 
a mill without outside help. Capital naturally seeks 
investment amongst people who have themselves 
exhibited resource and capability. When a cotton 


mill has been built on this plan, the result is not only 
a manufacturing plant for the town, but a savings 
institution has been worked out in the manner of 
raising the money with which to build the mill. Every 
one of the towns and cities of the southeast that are 
now well known as manufacturing places built 
their first factory out of native resources and without 
outside help. As a result, whenever New England 
money is looking for investment, it is likely to go to 
one of these places where success has already been 

"In one or two cases another feature has been 
introduced, viz., subscribers give notes for the amount 
of their subscriptions. By this plan the company 
has the notes to use for collateral in case of borrowing 
money; and if the notes are made interest-bearing, 
then the burden of interest falls on the subscribers 
and not on the treasury of the company. 

"As soon as the mill is in operation the matter 
of interest balances, provided the profit equals or 
exceeds the interest account. If the stockholders 
pay the interest, then the mill ought to pay a divi- 
dend from the time it starts up. But if the mill 
carries any interest account, on account of any un- 
paid subscriptions, then the stockholders ought not 
to expect any dividend until the stock is paid in full. 

"The factories built with capital raised on the 
above plan have all been successful, and are now 
doing well." 



THE development of the New South was much 
hindered by lack of skilled labor and tech- 
nical knowledge. The supply of orators and 
statesmen exceeded that of mechanics and engineers. 
Tompkins was deeply impressed by this condition. 
His education at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Insti- 
tute, his apprenticeship in the Bethlehem Iron Works, 
his construction and management of cotton mills, 
cotton oil mills, fertilizer works, and electric power 
and light plants, his manufacture of machinery, his 
inability to procure workmen for these enterprises, 
his business connection with Northern manufacturers 
of machinery, his frequent trips North with observa- 
tion and study of Northern progress in wealth, popula- 
tion, education, and industries, all confirmed and 
strengthened his conviction that the industrial supe- 
riority of the North was due to technical skill and 
knowledge rather than to superior natural resources 
or superior natural ability. The difference between 
the two sections he credited to their systems of educa- 
tion and labor; on the one hand, a system of intelli- 
gent, educated, free labor — on the other, of ignorant, 
untrained, and irresponsible slaves. Now that slav- 



ery was gone, ignorance must go with it. The New 
South must be founded on education. 

In the midst of labors and activities that would 
overtax an ordinary man he took up the task of 
arousing the South to an appreciation of the value 
of education in developing wealth and power. He 
threw his energy and talents into a campaign of educa- 
tion which he kept up for twenty years in public 
speeches, in addresses before schools, colleges, and 
universities, in newspaper and magazine articles, 
in appeals to manufacturers, in the establishment and 
operation of mill schools, in urging and assisting 
young men to avail themselves of the best educational 
training and culture. 

"The South must move in the matter of educa- 
tion," said he, "and keep moving, else in time the 
people who are keeping up and ahead in education 
will own the rest of the country. As * eternal vigi- 
lance is the price of liberty,' so persistent energy 
in keeping pace with progress is the price of being 
amongst the successful peoples of modern times. 
Ohio is not furnishing our Presidents by accident. 
It is not by accident that I go from Charlotte to the 
North to buy water wheels, gas engines, etc. It is 
because of systems of education that qualify the 
people to be the most competent to do these things. 
The South should follow this lead, and never rest till 
our people lead the world in education. If we do 
this, we will then take a leading part in supplying 
the world with manufactured products. The natural 
resources of the South are unsurpassed. We need 
knowledge and skill to handle them to our own ad- 
vantage, and we ought to qualify the youth of the 
South to handle them for our own people and not 
wait supinely for strangers to come and take posses- 


sion of them, thus leaving the wages paid by the 
stranger to be the only advantage to our own people.*' 

In a striking letter from Dayton, Ohio, published 
in the Charlotte Observer and copied extensively 
by the Southern press, he elaborates this idea as 
follows: "The central Northwest is an area great 
in population, wealth, and intelligence. Chicago 
on the Lakes and Cincinnati on the Ohio are great 
cities, but there are many others that would be 
boasted great in population and commerce if they 
were in other parts of the nation. 

"What is it that makes the wealth and influence 
of this central Northwest.? 

"The great and controlling factor in making the 
people of the central Northwest rich and powerful 
is education. The public schools here in Dayton 
are of unbounded interest. These are some of the 
figures in round numbers: 

Population of Dayton . . . 85,000 

Cost of high school building. . $330,000 

Number of district schools . . 19 

Number of school teachers . 350 

Salaries of teachers, each $400 to $1,500 

Aggregate salaries .... $200,000 

Students in high school . . . 1,050 

Pupils in district schools . . . 14,000 

"How can the cost of such expensive systems be 
borne .'^ 

"Some of the graduates of these schools are the 
mechanics who make water wheels which are sent to 
North Carolina; and some of the money comes from 
these. Others make oil mill machinery, which goes 
to North Carolina; and more of the money comes 


from there. Others make Corhss engines, which go 
to North Carohna; and still more of the money comes 
from there. And so on with many other articles 
requiring knowledge and skill to make. 

**But we get some of this money back; for I saw 
in a large dry goods jobbing house a pile of goods 
with 'Highland Park Manufacturing Company' 
on the bands. Quite a lot were from the Cone 
Export Company, of Greensboro, and there were 
white goods from Piedmont, Anderson, and Green- 
wood, S. C. 

"In the exchange of products between Dayton 
and Charlotte the former has the advantage. We 
used to exchange our raw cotton for whatever we 
needed. Latterly we are doing better, and we now 
exchange cotton goods that are plain enough to be 
made by labor that has little or no education and 
scant skill, for gas engines, photo-engravings, etch- 
ings, water wheels of high efficiency, and other prod- 
ucts carrying better profits and made by higher 
class and better paid workmen. But Charlotte 
is going forward, perhaps, at a better pace than 
Dayton is now going. Whether we gain or lose in 
the race is to my mind a question of education." 

He was in constant demand as a speaker on educa- 
iional topics; for his power of thought, his clearness 
of expression, his forceful illustrations, and his wide 
knowledge made him entertaining, instructive, and 
inspiring. Literary clubs and lyceums, school and 
college commencements, alumni associations, boards 
of trade, state legislatures, conventions of the various 
professions, associations of manufacturers, bankers, 
and farmers kept him busy. He responded to in- 
vitations as often as he could get away from business 
engagements. He spoke before the leading colleges 


and universities of the South and a large number 
of high schools and academies. Such audiences were 
especially pleasing, because he saw in them potential 
centres of wide influence. 

One of his addresses, delivered before college 
men in North Carolina, reviewed the educational 
and industrial history of the State, emphasized the 
commercial value of education, and demanded better 
equipment for the State institutions. 

"In all the world," said he, "education is one of 
the cheapest things to buy and one of the highest 
priced things to sell. States and nations spend 
money in various ways and in large sums to promote 
commerce, or to improve agriculture. No fostering 
appropriations contribute so much toward any of 
these as the same amount of money would contribute 
to them all if expended in education." 

"Some countries have exports that are small in 
tonnage but large in money values. These large 
values in money on very small tonnage show the 
prices obtained for education. Our people sell 
cotton at six cents, send it to Germany where it is 
manufactured into socks, and we buy it back at $1.00 
a pound. We send our finest upland long staple 
cotton to France at fifteen cents a pound, where it is 
made into fine organdies and we buy it back at $40 a 
pound. We send our Sea Island cotton at twenty- 
five cents a pound to Switzerland, where it is made 
into Swiss embroidery; and we buy it back at $80 a 
pound. When our people buy these goods they pay 
mostly for education." 


"The wealth of the State Hes in her undeveloped 
resources. The poverty of the State lies in the want 
of education and training of the people for the profit- 
able development of these resources. Strangers are 
coming from other states that are more liberal to 
their people in matters of education, to take advan- 
tage of our rich resources. In letting this come 
to pass, is the State fair to her own home people? 
Shall the best resources, the best salaries and compen- 
sations go to strangers because our home legislators 
refuse the necessary facilities to home people to be as 
fairly taught and as fairly trained as those strangers.^ 

"For the interests of our people it is imperative 
that we bring our State University to be the full 
equal of Harvard, Yale, the University of Michigan, 
or the University of Wisconsin, and our State Agri- 
cultural and Mechanical College to be the equal 
of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Co- 
lumbia School of Mines, or the Massachusetts In- 
stitute of Technology. The cost of an education 
to-day at either of our State institutions is probably 
about two to five hundred dollars a year. The 
education received at this low cost may easily be 
made by application and integrity to bring a salary, 
or other increase, of 1,200, 2,500, 5,000, 10,000, and 
even 25,000 dollars a year. Resources and oppor- 
tunities are here in this State in abundance; educa- 
tion alone is necessary to bring out the values of 

His interest in public schools was no less marked. 
He advocated popular education as an essential basis 
of industrial progress. He demanded an increase 
of taxes for public schools, although a large tax payer 
himself and a large contributor privately to both 


public and private schools. He demanded better 
schools and longer school terms, even if the State 
should be compelled to issue bonds. The following 
editorial, written by him and published in the Char- 
lotte Observer, of which he was controlling owner, 
sounds a trumpet call to the Legislature: 

"plant the flag of education" 

"This State has vast resources which have lain 
dormant through the centuries past, and the develop- 
ment of which has just begun in the last few years. 
Whatever advance education has made in the State 
has been perhaps the most valuable factor in conduc- 
ing to the beginning of the development of the re- 
sources of the State. Everj^ educational institution 
has contributed to the end of qualifying the youth 
of the State to know the resources that are here, and 
to stay at home to help develop them, whereas 
formerly tho youth of the State had to go to some 
other distant section to find occupation and profit. 
A" "Whatever else the legislature does or does not do, 
it ought to plant the flag of education through the 
State. Instead of hesitating too much about the 
cost, we should make certain of at least six months' 
school, and take chances on raising the money. It 
is really a case where we cannot afford to do less than 
establish a six months' school term throughout the 
State. The education will show the way for raisin^^ 
the money. We are not here regarding education 
as so much of a burden upon the resources of the 
State, but rather as means of bringing the State's 
L_ resources to profitable fruition. H Better education 
will not only conduce to more~fax money, but will 
conduce also to better observance of the rules of 


the Christian religion, to better morals, to better 
thrift and economy, to better industry, to the better- 
ment of the children and youth of the State, and 
to the general prosperity of the State in all future 
time. We earnestly recommend to the legislature 
that it make sure, first, of an increase of the school 
term, and then raise the money the best we can, if 
we go in debt a little more. The schools and the 
education of the youth of the country will pull us 
through in the matter of the debt; but if we let 
things drift into the alternative of ignorance, ignor- 
ance will never improve the State in any particular." 
An editorial, directed at the manufacturing towns 
of North Carolina, sets forth his ideas of elementary 
industrial education, as follows: 

"trade schools" 

" This State has developed a large number of manu- 
ufacturing centres. In different centres the manu- 
facturing is different. Durham and Winston manu- 
facture tobacco; High Point, furniture; Charlotte, 
Rockingham, and other centres manufacture cotton. 
There is great need of trade schools as they exist in 
Germany and as they have been developed to a very 
considerable extent in other continental countries 
and in England. Such schools should be adapted 
to the particular manufactures prevalent in a com- 
munity. If it requires a knowledge of the game and 
practice to develop skill to play baseball, we know 
that it requires more knowledge and skill to qualify 
a man to spin yarn, make furniture, and manufacture 
tobacco or trousers. These all require as high a 
degree of special knowledge and special skill as play- 
ing football or playing baseball. We all know what 


sort of a figure a man would cut going on a baseball 
or football field wholly unskilled, to undertake to play 
with the modern players. In view of the different 
kinds of education the formulation of the plans 
should be left to local centres of manufacturing dis- 
tricts. This would seem necessary fully to adapt 
the school to the local needs. Teaching ought, to a 
large degree, to be done not in courses of study but 
to the extent and of the kind that the applicant wants. 
Learning should be dispensed by the quart and the 
gallon as well as by the barrel. Here in Charlotte 
some movement looking toward a trade school has 
been accomplished by the Christian Association 
people both in their main building in the city and in 
the Southern Industrial Institute at Hopkins. Some 
work has also been done at other points in the way 
of small beginnings. 

"One or more well-developed trade schools in a 
centre like Charlotte should have the recognition 
of the State and of the public school authorities. 
The future development of manufactures is very 
dependent upon special education and training. 
In Massachusetts a great deal of attention has been 
given to this subject, and in time our educational 
authorities will have to take it up and do something." 

An editorial, intended to influence sentiment in his 
native town of Edgefield, S. C, set forth his ideas of 
education for a community partly agricultural and 
partly manufacturing : 

"a proposed system for EDGEFIELD** 

"The system should begin with the kindergarten. 
It should then go through the 7th or 9th grades of 
literary and scholastic education, with such contact 


With practical features as are available. It should 
have a small farm; and farm work should be demon- 
strated to the scholars. Then it should continue 
through the high school, and there should be classes 
in the special activities in practical work in the neigh- 
borhood. In the grades the pupils should be 
thoroughly grounded in the three 'Rs.' In the high 
school they should have the equivalent of a practical 
apprenticeship in some trade, and they should study 
special technicalities that apply to the various voca- 
tions of the neighborhood. This in Edgefield should 
include the manufacture of cotton oil and other prod- 
ucts of cottonseed, the manufacture of yarn and 
cloth from cotton. It should also especially in- 
clude instruction in farming, both from books and 
from practical demonstration; and there should be a 
good course for domestic science for the young woman. 
This high school can ultimately be brought to be 
the equivalent of a college, and can be made to yield 
values out of the resources in and around Edgefield 
through its educated graduates. The school should 
be a free school, and should ultimately be the central 
school for the county, at the same time be a tributary 
school to the A. &. M. and Winthrop, the Citadel 
and the University." 

In 1893 Tompkins was appointed by the governor 
and confirmed by the State Senate, a member of the 
Board of Trustees of the North Carolina College 
of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, which had been 
recently established under the provisions of the Mor- 
rill Act of the Congress of the United States — "to 
provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture, 
Mechanic Arts, and Military Tactics." From this 
date until his death, with an interval of two years, 
he was a member of the governing board of the 


college, and was the most potential factor on the 
board in molding the character and developing 
the work of the institution along lines in harmony 
with its mission. At the time of his appointment 
the college was in its fourth year, struggling for 
existence, with a small faculty, with scant equip- 
ment and very inadequate support either from pat- 
ronage or from legislative appropriation. The 
State was suffering from poverty; agriculture was its 
chief resource, and agricultural products were at a 
low price. The people were pinched in living and 
were not disposed to support, either by patronage 
or by taxation, institutions for higher education. 
The university w^as very grudgingly given a mere 
pittance; and even this pittance was used as a fire- 
brand by demagogues and bigots to inflame popular 
passion and prejudice. There was little appreciation 
of the value of higher education ; and very few people 
comprehended even vaguely the purpose, character, 
or value of technical education and industrial training. 
Until the appointment of Tompkins, the Board 
of Trustees of the college, although consisting of hon- 
est men devoted to the interests of the college, had 
not included a single member who had received a 
thorough technical education. This great desider- 
atum was now supplied by a man whose talents, edu- 
cation, experience, ambition, and public spirit made 
him a blessing to the institution and the State. His 
missionary work in the South as speaker, writer, 
lecturer, on technical and industrial education; his 
practical work as organizer, builder, and manager 
of industrial enterprises; his long and powerful ad- 
vocacy of popular education; his skill and knowledge 
and experience as a civil engineer were all now to 
culminate in the work of organizing and building up 


and directinoj a great people's college for technical 
and industrial education. His service on the Board 
of Trustees extended through nineteen years, during 
which period the writer, as president of the college, 
was closely associated with him for nine years in the 
college management. His advice and assistance 
were always helpful and freely given. He was not 
only level-headed and practical but well-trained and 
experienced in all lines of college work, especially 
in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering and 
textile work. In agriculture he was well-informed, 
experienced, broad-minded, progressive, and scienti- 
fic. He would visit every department of the college, 
inspect its work, and suggest something helpful. But 
he was not meddlesome nor officious. He had 
neither interest nor part in the little wrangles and 
petty discussions over small details of college life 
which so often engage the attention and deeply 
interest the minds of college trustees lacking in busi- 
ness experience and enjoying narrow views of life. 
He understood the necessity of leaving all details of 
management to the college officials. 

The development of the college was his aim; and 
he sought to achieve it by all possible agencies: by 
competent teachers with adequate salaries; by ample 
equipment in shops and laboratories; by lofty ideals 
and high standards of efficiency; by healthful, hand- 
some, modern buildings; by wholesome, generous 
diet. His aim was the evolution of a technical 
college in keeping with the spirit of the age and worthy 
of a commonwealth of two million people. 

To the president of the college Tompkins was a 
comfort and a help in many perplexing and discour- 
aging problems. His vision of future developments, 
coupled with tolerant acceptance of unavoidable 


temporary deficiencies, rendered him a most help- 
ful adviser. The most depressing condition in 
the early college days was the low grade of in- 
struction and the low standards of attainment. In 
discussing this condition Tompkins would always 
accept it as a temporary necessity. "It will soon 
give place to something better," he would say. Of 
an indifferent teacher he would say, "He is a cheap 
man, and we can expect little from him. We shall 
do better in time." Of trifling and frequently vicious 
pupils he would say: "The college is new, and 
the whole idea of industrial education is new to our 
people, who were wedded to the old traditions of 
education. The college cannot attract the best 
material all at once, but in due time it will come.'* 
Of a building faulty in construction, or a department 
poorly equipped, he would say: "It is poor, indeed, 
but better than nothing. It will do for a beginning." 
In education, as in business, he was for doing the 
best possible with the material available. 

His mental attitude was always helpful. While 
tolerant of present imperfections, he understood 
thoroughly what was essential to improvement and 
future development. Others, to whom were en- 
trusted the destinies of the college, whether members 
of the Board of Trustees or members of the State 
Legislature, were firmly and proudly fixed in the 
belief that the meagre and antiquated plant of the 
college was superior to anything in the old world 
or the new. Tompkins knew better, for he had seen 
the best equipment and experienced the best training 
and enjoyed a large experience. His was an intel- 
ligent estimate of technical and industrial education. 
And yet he was prompt to make the most of whatever 
was available. He would start with a ten-thousand- 


dollar equipment, knowing that it would soon be- 
come a million-dollar plant. "I will make a begin- 
ning of a career in iron if I have to start as a black- 
smith at a country crossroads." This had been the 
animating principle of his early life, and he applied 
it to the early life of a technical college. 

Tompkins was a great favorite with the college 
students, who loved to hear him speak, and mani- 
fested by attention and applause their keen apprecia- 
tion of his best thoughts. He never talked down to a 
college audience, but presented them with his loftiest 
ideals and his deepest thoughts. He delivered 
before the faculty and students an address worthy 
to be printed on the walls of every Southern college. 
It manifests in a high degree his fine talents as thinker 
and speaker, his sympathy with young men and abil- 
ity to inspire them, his love of the South, his appre- 
ciation of the value and power of skill and knowledge, 
his love of mankind and broad views of life. 

The address was as follows : 





*T have come from my work and appear before you 
in my working clothes. If I had done this ten years 
ago I would have appeared in a suit of overalls, 
with a hammer in one hand and a coal chisel in the 
other. I regard it to be far the most important feat- 
ure of my education as an engineer that I served 
an apprenticeship at the machinist's trade, and had 
a long term of experience as a journeyman machinist. 
I also had a service as draftsman, and then as 
master mechanic. It was ten years after I graduated 


from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, of Troy, 
N. Y., as an engineer, before I assumed to undertake 
any comprehensive engineering work on my own 
responsibility. This ten years was a period of prac- 
tice and arduous training. 

"As the burden of what I shall say to you to-night 
will be to emphasize the importance of training and 
skill, as well as of study and knowledge, I hope that 
the scant reference I have made to my own work 
may be taken as simply to show, at the outset, that 
I have conscientiously practised what I shall recom- 
mend and urge upon you as being necessary for the 
best interests of Southern progress and for your fu- 
ture welfare and success in life. 

"Enough has been said and written about the-value 
of technical education to create great expectations 
on the part of those who have been its promoters 
and patrons. In some instances there has been dis- 
appointment. Sometimes mothers and sisters have 
kept boarders and washed dishes to keep a bright 
son and brother in school, with the fond expectation 
that when he graduated he would get a position at a 
good salary, set up a house for them to keep, and 
with nothing else to do. It has sometimes happened 
that the young graduate has returned home with a 
fine education, only to add an unprofitable member 
to the household. His mother and sisters could ob- 
serve that he had learned much, that his conduct 
was gentlemanly and honorable, that he indus- 
triously sought employment, that he was perfectly 
willing to work, yet he found nothing to do. Under 
these circumstances there is naturally disappoint- 
ment. For the time being it would naturally seem 
to them that technical education had not all the ad- 
vantages claimed for it. The trouble in such cases 


is that the young man has been amply equipped 
in the matter of teaching, but he was deficient in 
training or skill. He knew the theories, but he 
served no apprenticeship. 

"There have been absolutely no cases, where knowl- 
edge and skill have been combined, where easy suc- 
cess has not followed. 


"Engineering is a science and an art. For the 
science careful study is necessary. For the art ardu- 
ous practice is necessary. It may be compared 
to music, which is also a science and art. Let us 
suppose it had been the sister who was to have been 
educated, and music was to have been her career. 
If she had gone to a conservatory and studied to the 
utmost limit all the science of music, but had never 
practiced it, what could she have done in giving a con- 
cert.^ If she had come home thoroughly equipped 
in the science of music, but without practice, she, 
too, would have been compelled to become one more 
of the household to be supported. 

"There was a time when, for an ordinary commun- 
ity, the musical requirements were simple. Who- 
ever could turn a tune on a violin, or thump a tune 
on a piano by ear, was a musician. So, also, there was 
a time when the man having practice but no education 
— the self-made man of the former generation — was 
the great boast of his day. With the more exacting 
conditions of these modern times, with the advancing 
of civilization, we hear nothing about the self-made 
man, about the man whose college was a canal boat. 

"These were men, however, of sterling worth. 
While they had scant knowledge, they had amazing 


skill; and they performed wonders in handling human- 
ity and in accomplishing material results to their 
country's advantage. Some of them, realizing their 
own deficiencies in education, and realizing what a 
tremendous advantage additional education would 
have brought to them, founded schools; but, remark- 
able to relate, they caused to be formulated, in most 
cases, courses of instruction in what they were them- 
selves deficient in and omitted all care as to the re- 
liable training that they possessed. They founded 
universities without systems of training or practice. 
"Perhaps the best educated people who ever lived 
in the United States were the Southern planters' 
sons before the Civil War, if their future occupation 
is taken into consideration. These, in their youth, 
all had a full apprenticeship in the work of planting 
cotton and tobacco. Whether required to do it or 
not, they rode mules, drove wagons, and did all the 
operations on a plantation. The young man growing 
up on a plantation not only knew about mules in 
general, but he knew the characteristics of each mule 
on the place. He knew every negro on the place. 
He knew every ordeal of the plantation life, and at an 
early age knew these details better than his father 
did. Add to this perfect apprenticeship a college 
education, and you have the education of the men 
who in the ante-bellum days governed the nation. 
They were successful in the government of the nation 
because for the then existing conditions they had 
been well educated and trained. 


"In material value a well-rounded technical educa- 
tion, made up of equal parts of knowledge and skill, 


is difficult to estimate. The Rensselaer Polytechnic 
Institute was founded in 1820, and the graduates 
were the chief factors in the development of the Amer- 
ican railway system, in contra-distinction to the 
English system, which latter was followed and copied 
throughout Europe. These graduates almost in- 
variably started in railway service as rodmen and 
chainmen. And they do yet, at pay something like 
$30 a month. They then find places as section bosses, 
then as division superintendents, and finally as presi- 
dents, as was the case with the late Mr. George B. 
Roberts, who was the president of the Pennsylvania 
Railroad, and Mr. A. J. Cassatt, who is now presi- 
dent. We have far the finest and most practical 
system of railways in the world; and the distinction 
of the system is its originality. The American 
bridge system is also the outcome of that school. 
The Reeveses of the Phoenix Bridge Works and the 
Roeblings, who built the great Brooklyn Bridge, are 
all graduates from Rensselaer. 

"In metallurgy we always needed high protective 
duties, until the Columbia College, New York, sent 
out some graduates who were well equipped m 
metallurgical knowledge and in skill. I regard that 
the rapid progress we have lately made in the pro- 
duction of cheap and excellent iron and steel on an 
expert basis is due more to the work done by the 
graduates of that school than to any other cause. 
There are now a number of schools in both engineer- 
ing and metallurgy that are turning out graduates 
that are as well educated as those who come out 
of the schools referred to; but those referred to led 
the way in their respective subjects. The magnitude 
of the developments in each of these divisions of 
industrial progress have been simply stupendous. 


We liave inoro .nul In tier railroads than all the 
rest of the world put together; and after a long and 
hard fight of England to keep her system as the stan- 
dard one for foreign countries, and very little on our 
part to introduce ours, it has come to pass that ours 
is credited as being much the best and is now being 
readily introduced in many foreign countries, not- 
ably in Russia. 

"In pig iron and steel we have also brought out 
processes and methods to such perfection that we 
make the best and cheapest product in the world; 
and our expert trade in these is growing to enormous 

"Unhappily, we have no such schools in applied 
chemistry, in what might be called chemical engineer- 
ing, nor in textile engineering. These are fields 
practically as large as others, and from a scientific 
point of view are practically untouched in America. 
Chemical engineering might bring wonderful results 
out of our cotton oil and other raw products. Ger- 
many has given much attention to the development 
of applied chemistry ; and as a result she has magnifi- 
cent chemical works in which even coal tar and many 
valuable products are obtained, such as aniline 
dyes, medicines like phenacetine, antipyrine, and 
other valuable stuffs. Germany has also developed 
a system of textile schools as a result of which we 
send our cotton to Chemnitz at six and seven cents 
a pound, to be manufactured there and sent back to 
us in the shape of knit goods at one dollar and up- 
ward a pound. All the freight charges going and 
coming are paid to German ships, always to German 
labor, and all the dyestuffs come from the German 
manufacturers. We simply get our seven cents, and 
pay back our dollar. 


"Let us look into one of our homely products, and 
see what we might make of it, if our people had the 
knowledge and the skill. Reckoning our North 
Carolina cotton crop as worth to the producer an 
average of six cents from one year to another, we would 
have 500,000 bales, as cotton at six cents, yielding 
$15,000,000. This same cotton, manufactured into 
cotton cloth, would be tripled in value, and 500,000 
bales, as cloth at eighteen cents, yields $45,000,000. 

"We already manufacture about three hundred 
thousand bales into yarn, or into white and colored 
cloth, which means that we are turning about ten 
million dollars' worth of cotton into thirty million 
dollars' worth of product. We do this with our own 
home people as operatives; and, therefore, between 
the manufacturer, the operator, and the foreman, the 
whole two hundred per cent, is profit. 

"With agricultural colleges, experiment stations, 
fertilizer control, and by other means, wisely pre- 
pared by our legislators, we have been able to keep 
down the cost of producing cotton to an extent to 
continue to control the production. The production 
and prices show, however, that we have reached a ten- 
million-bale crop, which at six cents has yielded us 
$300,000,000. We find that when we have a five- 
million-bale crop, it yielded us twelve cents, or the 
sum of $300,000,000, and when we made two and a half 
millions it yielded twenty -four cents, or again the 
same $300,000,000. Could we have curtailed the pro- 
duction and increased the price.? Such a plan would 
seem to me impossible. India, copying our method 
and buying our machinery, is already producing 
more cotton than we did twenty years ago. Egypt, 
also, even at the low prices, is increasing her produc- 
tion. The English, who control both those countries, 


are exerting themselves to the utmost to stimulate 
cotton production in those countries. 

"We have reduced the cost of production to a point 
where further reduction can only be a differential 
quality; a saving of one cent a pound in producing 
the entire crop of the State would only aggregate 
two and a half million dollars, whereas the same crop, 
manufactured into plain cloth, would be increased in 
value $30,000,000. In the distribution of this 
aggregate gain the farmer would be the greatest 
beneficiary. Because of the proximity of the mills the 
North Carolina farmer already gets from one half cent 
to one cent more for his cotton than the Texas or 
Missouri farmer gets. This is not all, however; he 
gets home markets for his fruits, vegetables, poultry, 
milk, butter, and a great variety of perishable food- 
stuffs that can be produced on a farm, while the 
operatives of the neighboring factory make a 
market. Whenever cotton is tripled in value by 
manufacture, the adjacent lands are tripled also in 
value. The increased price of cotton, the in- 
creased price of land, and the increased markets are 
all gain to the farmers, to say nothing of the new 
avenues of success and fortune opened up to his sons 
and daughters. Amongst our people the farmer's 
interest in developing manufactures is the greatest. 
In truth, in this generation, we can have only such 
manufactures as the farmers develop — for all of us 
are, or have been, farmers. 

"The estimate of an increase to three times the 
value of raw cotton when made into cloth relates only 
to the plainest sheeting and plaids. This is what 
may be done with the least possible knowledge and 
skill. Take the fancy ginghams, such as the Toile de 
. Nord, made by my friend, Mr. A. H. Lowe, in 


Fitchburg, Mass., and these will reach sixty cents a 
pound, or ten times the value of cotton at six cents. 
Our North Carolina crop of 500,000 bales worth as 
cotton $15,000,000, if made into the ginghams would 
be worth $150,000,000, or half as much as the entire 
crop of the South brings as cotton. Even this is not 
by any means the limit. My friend, Mr. H. H. 
Hargrove, of Shreveport, Lc, told lately of having 
weighed a dress pattern of fine French organdie. 
The entire piece weighed one third of a pound, 
and it sold at eighty cents a yard, or an aggregate 
of $24 a pound. The cotton in this was of course 
the best Sea Island, but even that probably cost not 
exceeding twenty-five cents a pound, while the prod- 
uct is selling in our stores here at $24 a pound. The 
difference is what we pay the German and French 
men and women, for their knowledge and skill — for 
their technical education, which we haven't got. 
"The designs of the patterns are made largely by 
artists, affording profitable, agreeable, and artistic 
employment, at home, to young ladies, who are 
educated and skilful in artistic designing. It is 
evident from the prices charged for these goods that 
everybody who works in any of the processes gets high 
salaries, which makes the goods come high; but our 
home young ladies are beautiful, and must have 
beautiful goods to wear, even if the money must be 
sent to France and Germany, until our own people 
learn how to make the nicer fabrics. I have spoken 
of how a nice gingham costs sixty cents a pound. 
Omitting altogether the really finer stuffs, such as 
French organdies, and dotted Swiss muslins, and 
taking a fabric at $1.20 a pound, which could be 
.i^ made with a modicum of education and training, the 
nSlorth CaroUna crop of $500,000 bales (I speak in 


round numbers always) would be worth, if manu- 
factured into goods of this value^ $300,000,000, or as 
much as the entire South's cotton crop is worth as 
raw cotton. I believe we have ample population to 
do this, and that all that is needed is knowledge and 
skill, or technical education." 


"Twenty years ago our friends in New England 
asserted with some emphasis that Southern people 
could not manufacture cotton at all. It was said 
that the climate was enervating, that the people of 
the South had no mechanical taste, and a lot of 
other reasons were given why the attempt would fail. 
But it succeeded. Then it was said that some coarse 
goods might be made but never the finer stuffs. It 
is not a matter of inherent capability nor of climate, 
but purely one of technical education. 

*'The development of our manufactures in the last 
twenty-five years is a revival rather than a new 
development. The taste and capability exhibited 
by the present generation is an inheritance, and not 
a thing of entirely new birth. In the early days of 
the Republic the South was the manufacturing 
section of the Union. By the United States census 
of 1810 the manufactured products of Virginia, the 
Carolinas, and Georgia exceeded in value and 
variety those of the entire New England States and 
New York put together. The Henrietta Cotton 
jMill, near Rutherford, is on the site of an old iron 
works. The High Shoals INIill, now being built near 
Lincolnton, had to be cleared of some brick stacks of 
old Catlin forges to make way for the new founda- 
tions. Throughout the Piedmont region there are 


many evidences of former extensive manufacturing 
plants and much prosperity. I have at home a copy 
of a contract in accordance with which a machinist 
at Lincolnton made all the machinery necessary to 
equip a cotton mill complete having a date of 

"This manufacturing spirit and its success gave rise 
o many schemes for internal improvement. Iron 
and other goods were carried from the Lincolnton 
and other Piedmont sections to Fayetteville by 
wagon, and thence down the Cape Fear River on 
boats, and thence to Boston in sailing vessels. 

"The poison that ultimately destroyed this develop- 
ment, these great Southern manufacturing interests, 
was the institution of slavery. As this grew in 
strength, manufactures dechned, until by the time 
of the war they were well-nigh dried up. There were 
those, however, who made a tremendous fight for 
their preservation and for the extension of our 
commerce. The founders of the Republic, most of 
the leaders amongst whom were Southern men, did 
everything in their power to develop American 
manufactures and retain American commerce; and 
these principles made better headway at that time in 
the South than in the North. Charleston had fair 
promise at one time of becoming the greatest Ameri- 
can port. It was a promise based upon the capability 
and enterprise of her people. When the South 
Carolina Railway was built it was one of the great 
engineering works of the world. It was extended 
from Charleston to the head of navigation on the 
Savannah River, to take the cotton coming down the 
river in flat boats by rail to Charleston instead of 
letting it go in boats to Savannah. They extended a 
branch to Columbia, to catch the cotton on the 


Congaree in the same way. Then they undertook to 
get a Hne through to the Mississippi River at Mem- 
phis, there to catch the cotton and Northwestern 
produce, and turn it to Charleston. Largely by the 
influence of the people of Charleston, the State of 
Georgia either aided or wholly built roads from 
Augusta to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Chattanooga 
— calling the latter the Western and Atlantic, the 
name indicating what the motive was in its building. 
There, pushing on farther, the Memphis & Charles- 
ton was built from Chattanooga to Memphis, the 
name again indicating some meaning as to the 
plans. When this road was finished, making a 
through route, there was a special run over the entire 
route carrying a party of Charleston and Memphis 
people, and also carrying a barrel of water which 
had been taken out of the Mississippi River, and 
which was emptied into the bay at Charleston, 
indicative, as it were, of the future course of the 
Mississippi River commerce. While not appreciating 
the increasing strength of slavery or its blighting 
influence, the people of the South, observing the 
tendency of manufactures to decline, made heroic 
efforts looking to internal development. After 
successfully developing a great railway line to Mem- 
phis, the people of Charleston formulated plans for 
building a direct road from Charleston to Cincinnati. 
Mr. Robert Y. Hayne was the chief promoter of the 
enterprise, and devoted much time to it. In getting 
the necessary legislation, his talents excited such 
admiration that he was sent to the United States 
Senate as the colleague of INIr. John C. Calhoun; and 
the debates betwixt Webster and Hayne about 
slavery were perhaps the most noted that ever were 
conducted in the United States Senate. But Mr. 


Hayne, even at the height of his poHtical fame, never 
lost sight of interest in his Charleston-Cincinnati 
railroad; and in the interval of his Congressional 
duties he spent much of his time in Asheville, N. C, 
looking after his interests. 

*' There was an extraordinary situation: Mr. 
Hayne was at the same time the teacher of two 
tremendous and opposing institutions, for the success 
of either meant the destruction of the other. 

"Had the road to Cincinnati been completed, the 
tide of export commerce from Pittsburgh down the 
Ohio, thence from Cincinnati to Charleston, the 
agricultural products from Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, 
then the Northwest but meagrely developed, and 
from the states south of the Ohio would probably 
have led to interests greater than that of slavery, and 
therefore to the peaceful abolition of the institution. 
Mr. Hayne succeeded, however, better with his de- 
fense of slavery than in the construction of his great 

"In North Carolina Colonel John M. Morehead led 
the forces for internal development and the extension 
of commerce. He caused to be built the North 
Carolina Railroad, reaching from Goldsboro to 
Greensboro. Then also the road from Goldsboro to 
Morehead City. Then plans were formulated to 
build a road from Salisbury to the Tennessee line 
near Ducktown. It was then contemplated to form 
a private company to build a connection through to 
Chattanooga, thus reaching Memphis over the 
Memphis and Charleston. If this road had been 
built, and the roads all consolidated, North Carolina 
would now have a direct line from Memphis to tide 
water at Morehead City. Every phase of the history 
of your ancestors and their work shows them to have 


been men of sterling abilities and great enterprise. 
They ruled the government in those days because 
they had the best possible education and training in 
practical affairs. 

"The increasing agitation about slavery and the 
increasing interest taken by Southern people in the 
subject gradually drew interest and energy away 
from the beneficent works of enterprise, and brought 
on the Civil War with its disastrous results. 


"Comparing the wealth of this State with that of 
Massachusetts, it may seem to you that your parents 
had left you a scant inheritance. It may seem as if 
they had not made much of a success of life. Let us 
see to this. In the period that succeeded the Civil 
War the whole South was plunged into a state of 
semi-anarchy. After having all their property swept 
away, and the former system of labor completely 
destroyed, your parents had forced upon them an 
experiment in human affairs never before attempted 
in the world. It was one involving the ability of the 
white race to preserve the Anglo-Saxon civilization 
under the most adverse conditions and the most 
powerful opposing influences. Under far less pres- 
sure, the Latin race in Cuba and South America 
descended toward the inferior race. In a war for 
civilization lasting for a quarter of a century your 
fathers have held one hand ready at all times to 
defend their homes, while with the other the re- 
sources of the country have been taken care of. They 
have furnished the monopoly of the production of 
cotton. They have paid one third of an enormous 
pension list, getting nothing in return. They have 


paid two dollars for every one that could be applied 
to the education of their own sons. 

"In the short period since the restoration of good 
government they have returned to the occupation of 
their ancestors, manufacture; and have demonstrated 
that cotton goods may be made here to advanta;:e 
and profit, and on an export basis. They have 
developed a splendid industry in cotton oil, and on an 
export basis. In other parts of the South the 
passing generation has demonstrated the value of 
other resources, and the practicability of developing 
them profitably, such as iron, lumber, phosphates, 
etc. They have founded such schools as this, to 
prepare you to take charge of this great inheritance. 
All this is to be delivered to you unencumbered for 
you, as it has been for them in the past. 

"They have won the fight for civilization. There is 
no race problem now. There is no anarchy. You 
have as fine opportunity before you as ever a genera- 
tion of young men had in the world. If each of you, 
taking advantage of these opportunities, should grow 
rich, and should build honor for your parents and 
keep them in luxury the remainder of their days, you 
would not approximately settle the debt you owt 
them for what they have endured for civilization and 
for your welfare. 


"The real reconstruction of this State is in your 
hands. It is for you to take up the great work of 
internal development where your grandparents left 
it off. I have attempted to show that you come of a 
race of broad-minded, progressive, and successful men. 
In their day and time they fostered by wise means the 


development of manufactures. They formulated 
and executed comprehensive plans for internal devel- 
opment. They created and put in motion a system 
of agriculture which has resulted in the production 
annually of ten million bales of cotton in an area 
that is small as compared with the cotton areas of 
China, India, Egypt, and South America. This is the 
greatest result in agriculture ever accomplished by 
any people in the world. 

"Your forefathers made one mistake — committed 
one error — slavery. The whole industrial fabric of 
New England is going forward to-day on lines that 
were worked out and partly executed three quarters 
of a century ago by the people of this State. 

"Slavery is gone. The anarchy that succeeded the 
Civil War is gone. Besides preserving for you in 
untarnished purity — the civilization of your an- 
cestors — which required ceaseless vigilance, toil, and 
privation, your parents have laid for you the founda- 
tions for the reestablishment of manufactures, the 
further development of agriculture, and for renewed 
zeal in the work of internal development. In the 
prosecution of this work they have not been so 
situated as to allow you luxuries or any form of ex- 
travagant indulgences. 

"Thus it transpires that you have had at home a 
constant discipline in economy and self-control that 
has been Spartan in its severity. The very enforced 
simplicity of your early lives, the very earnestness of 
your parents in work of saving honor and civihza- 
tion out of the wreck wrought by slavery and the 
Civil War, have kept you in an atmosphere that ought 
to have made sound minds in sound bodies and 
further qualified you in moral character to give you 
something of the abilities of your ancestors. The 


organization of this very school is part of the work 
your parents have done for your future advantage. 
They are ready to turn over to you as a heritage the 
great resources of the South with the work of develop- 
ment already well begun. In the short while since 
they returned to this work of development the 
people of the South have put cotton goods, cotton 
oil, iron and lumber upon an export basis. In all 
these the fires of the new industry have been started 
for you. 

"It is yet to be seen whether you are capable of 
handling wisely and well the greatest heritage ever 
developed by a going generation to a coming one. 
For myself there is not a shadow of doubt about the 
result. I confidently believe that your generation 
will restore to North Carolina the wealth which 
relatively she once enjoyed, and bring back to her 
people the progressive and ruling qualities which 
were characteristic of your ancestors. 

"For the future greatness of the State the resources 
are all here. 

"We have a race of young men in whose veins flow 
the blood of those who were the leaders in the great 
battle for freedom in the latter part of the eighteenth 
century, of those who were leaders in the early days, 
of those who made the Republic strong by wise and 
comprehensive measures for the development of 
agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. 

"The mistake of slavery is now a thing of the past. 
The results of the mistake have all been repaired by 
your fathers except one. Our deficiency is Technical 
Education. Even for this they have provided the 
means. The final solution of the problem remains 
alone with you. The graduates from this school — 
the classes now before me — ought to formulate the 


plans and put in operation the new systems of agri- 
culture, manufactures, and commerce that will re- 
store to this State something of its former splendor 
in the Union, and will determine the course which 
every state in the Union must go, to keep the lead- 
ing pace that you will set. 





THE next step taken by Tompkins in behalf of 
industrial education and cotton manufac- 
tures was the building of textile schools. He 
resolved to make a beginning by establishing a 
school in his native town. The following letter to 
his friend and fellow worker, R. H. Edmonds, editor 
of the Manufacturers' Record, sets forth his purpose 
and plan : 

"You know of the hotel building I have at Edge- 
field. I enclose a cut of it. 

"I have been figuring on using this building for 
Textile School purposes. It might seeni that Edge- 
field is not a proper place because of its isolation. I 
have thought over this carefully, and I believe that it 
is as good a place as can be found in the South and 
better than most places. For inspecting factories 
trips could be made to Augusta, Piedmont, Pelzer, 
Columbia, and other places. The students and 
pupils would be free to study, as they would not be in 
a city. All industrial centres could contribute to 
and support it without prejudice. There is now at 
Edgefield a plant comprising an oil mill, a ginnery, 
and a cotton factory. This one plant would be bet- 
ter than twenty cotton mills without a ginnery or 
oil mill. 



"My idea has been to go ahead and open the 
school without asking for help beforehand, or support 
beforehand. I had thought of asking the following 
gentlemen to serve as a Board of Trustees: 
R. H. Edmonds, Baltimore, Md. 
J. O. Hemphill, Charleston, S. C. 
James L. Orr, Piedmont, S. C. 

"Also some good mill man in Augusta and myself. 
This would make five, which I think would be 

"Mr. E. W. Thompson, who has been with me 
about eight years, would make a good man to put in 
charge. He, with some bright young man to help 
him, could manage it to start with. Then with such 
help as could be gotten we could extend the school. 
Gifts of machinery or money could be solicited. We 
could also arrange with as many mills as possible to 
give work to the graduates. By this means we could 
guarantee an opening to the successful students. Of 
course a mill could do no more than put a graduate 
to work. His progress and advancement would 
depend upon himself. At present a young man of 
twenty years finds himself without an opening in man- 
ufacturing pursuits for want of knowledge or training 
of any sort pertaining to manufacturing. With the 
good will of mills to such a school the young graduate 
would find himself possessed of all these, viz.: the 
knowledge, the skill, and the opening in a mill to make 
a start. 

"I have spoken privately to several of my friends 
about this plan. My suggestions have received the 
hearty approval of my friends as far as I have gone. 

"I could put Mr. Thompson at Edgefield, say 
September 15th, and open up at once. I cannot 
undertake to do this without feeling that I shall have 


a strong support afterward from such men as you, 
Mr. Hemphill, and the mill men," 

The impracticability of the Edgefield project was 
soon realized by Tompkins. He had formed it in 
zeal and enthusiasm; but his cooler judgment con- 
vinced him that textile schools are best established 
and supported, not by individuals, but by states or 

He now determined to promote the establishment 
of textile schools in the various Southern States to be 
under the control and support of the State govern- 
ments. He turned his attention first to his native 
state. "I took up the subject with my friends in 
South Carolina," he says in his memoirs, "with the 
idea of having a textile department at Clemson 
College. I found it easy to excite interest. Mr. 
Benjamin R. Tillman, U. S. Senator, promptly 
favored my plans. Col. D. K. Norris, for whom I 
was engineering the new Norris cotton mill, also 
favored them. Finding public sentiment decidedly 
favorable and the prospects bright for the school, I 
decided to make a tour of inspection of the textile 
schools in the United States and England. I 
visited Philadelphia and looked over the textile 
school there. I visited England and looked up 
textile schools there. I was not only inspecting and 
studying these textile schools, but was on the lookout 
for a man to be director at Clemson if the textile 
department should be established. Mr. C. P. 
Brooks was recommended to me. After several 
conferences I asked him to bring his wife to tea with 
me at my hotel. He did so; and I was well enough 
impressed to make an engagement with him to go to 
America at a salary of $2,500 a year and expense of 
the trip over for him and wife. He was to be one of 


the engineers for the Tompkins Company; and, if 
the Clemson Textile Department was established, he 
was to go there if I wished it. Mr. Brooks worked 
for the Tompkins Company in this tentative way 
about a year. Meanwhile, the State of Massachusetts 
had inaugurated a movement for a series of textile 
schools, and the one at Lowell had been begun. Mr. 
Brooks' arrival in America and the purpose of his 
coming had been pretty well advertised by notices in 
the public press; and when Lowell wanted a textile 
director, they offered Brooks $3,500 a year. He 
consulted me as to his desire to take the place and his 
moral obligation to me. I promptly told him the 
offer was more than Clemson could pay, and advised 
him to accept it."* 

Public sentiment in South Carolina was growing 
rapidly in favor of a textile department at Clemson, 
and the public looked to Tompkins to shape the 
policy of the department and arrange the courses of 
instruction. He was invited by the trustees of the 
college to present before them his views concerning 
the proposed textile department. After performing 
this duty, he subsequently, at the request of the 
Board, embodied his ideas in the following letter: 

Charlotte, N. C, Aug. 24, 1897. 
To the Hon. R. W. Simpson, Chairman 
and the Board of Trustees, 
Clemson College, S. C. 
Gentlemen : 

Pursuant to your request, made when I discussed 
before your board the subject of a textile department 
at Clemson College, I submit the following sug- 
gestions : 

•Mr. Brooks became first director of the Lowell Textile School and afterward director 

aud organizer of the New Bedford Textile School. 


I conceive Clemson College to have been estab- 
lished in deference to the wishes of the people of the 
state to have a school where the youth of the state 
could, in getting an ordinary college education, do it 
in a way that would qualify them to find an easier 
entrance into some profitable occupation than it was 
found could be done from the ordinary literary 
institutions. The education and training given at 
such an institution ought to be of a kind that is 
calculated to be most useful to the graduate and also 
of the greatest advantage to the other people of the 
state at large. 

For the accomplishment of these advantages, it 
seems apparent that the courses of study and training 
should relate to those pursuits into which students 
could at once enter in the state. 

Two industries which have developed more rapidly 
and more extensively perhaps than any other in the 
state, are the manufacture of cotton oil and the 
manufacture of cotton. The youth of the state have 
found employment to a very great extent in oil mills 
and cotton mills. What they know of these subjects 
has been necessarily picked up by the rule-of-thumb 
method. Both these industries furnish the most 
unlimited opportunities for the work of every gradu- 
ate of Clemson inside the state. In cotton oil, 
besides the process of manufacture, there are great 
possibilities in refining, in making soap, in the pro- 
duction of food stuffs by mixing the hulls and meal, 
in making fertilizers, and in other ways. With a 
better knowledge of the subject many collateral in- 
dustries might be established. Glycerine, candles, 
fancy soaps, table oils, and many other articles of 
great commercial value are already made from cotton 
oil in other sections of this country, and with a proper 


exposition of the knowledge relating to these subjects 
all these products might be made in South Carolina, 
furnishing lucrative employment to the young men 
of the state and keeping in the state a resource which 
comes from a product of the state. 

In the manufacture of cotton the field is probably 
still greater; and the importance of extending 
amongst the youth of the state a knowledge of the 
textile art could hardly be properly estimated. Up 
to the present time the product of the factories of 
your state has been chiefly plain w^hite cloth. Simple 
as the manufacture of this cloth is, it has been neces- 
sary to employ many men from other sections of the 
country to conduct these operations in South 
Carohna, while in many cases the young graduates 
of your state institutions, being untaught and un- 
skilled in the textile art, have been compelled to go 
North or West to find employment in fines where 
their education and training in your schools is more 
appficable. It is noticeable also that those young 
men who want to go into some line of textile manu- 
facture do not consider any Southern school, but go 
North either to a school or into the shops or in some 
engineer's office. 

Some people think that the development of cotton 
manufacture in the South in the line of coarse white 
goods has nearly reached its profitable limit. If this 
is true, it is all-important that the youth of the 
present generation should be educated to extend it 
into other lines. The tendency will naturally be 
toward finer goods and toward colored dress goods, 
which is a field of infinite variety. 

Your state was foremost in the development of 
cotton production. On plans that were formulated 
and executed first in South Carolina, the cotton area 


of the South is furnishing the great bulk of the 
cotton supply of the world. This was all original 
work. No other people had done such work. There 
were no methods to copy. Does it seem proper that 
in the manufacture of cotton the people of the state 
should content themselves with duplicating the 
simplest processes of cotton manufacture in other 
sections and be further content to carry on these 
processes largely under the direction of men brought 
from other sections, when a great many of the 
youth of your state are seeking profitable employ- 
ment — in some cases, leaving the state to find it? 

This subject of textile schools has received the 
most careful thought and attention in Europe. 
Some years ago it was noted in England that some of 
the continental countries, notably Germany and 
Switzerland, were making an increasing progress in 
capturing Enghsh trade. Even in England, edu- 
cated young Germans were being employed as super- 
intendents of dye works for their chemical knowledge 
and their practical training in making beautiful 
colors at cheap cost. Also for designing new and 
stylish patterns in various fabrics. It came to pass 
that not only English trade was suffering, but also the 
practical English dyer and the practical English 
weaver found German and Swiss young men taking 
their places. A commission was appointed to go to 
the continent and make a report of the cause of the 
growing continental trade. This commission found 
magnificent schools at Zurich, Chemnitz, and other 
places. Steps were at once taken to found similar 
schools in England. To-day, Manchester has a 
textile institution to furnish instruction day or even- 
ing, thus making it available to young men who have 
to work during the day and can only devote some 


time in the evenings to study. Many other English 
manufacturing centres have established similar 
schools. Some of the textile machine builders in 
England have founded schools of instruction in their 
works. It is astonishing to learn how much money 
has been spent on even those schools which are 
practically departments of the business of private 
firms. As to the value of all this expenditure, it is 
suflScient to say, nobody in England doubts the 
wisdom of the expenditure, but, on the contrary, the 
disposition is to still further increase and cheapen the 
facilities for technical and especially textile education. 

In the United States the New England and the 
Philadelphia textile districts have both made splendid 
progress in providing for the collection and dissemina- 
tion of knowledge in textile subjects. The first 
textile school of importance in the United States was 
established in Philadelphia some years ago. This 
school has been doing excellent work, and promises to 
be of great advantage to the Philadelphia district. At 
Lowell a textile school has lately been established 
by state and city aid. This school has been well 
equipped, and is doing well. 

Such a department at Clemson College would un- 
doubtedly contribute to diversify the manufacture of 
cotton goods in the state, and would probably at an 
early date bring about the establishment of one or 
more bleacheries and finishing works. Besides being 
of advantage to the youth of the state in qualifying 
them for profitable employment, it should be of 
great value in stimulating the development of the 
resources of the state in the line of textile manu- 

Education, to be of value, must not be entirely 
pedagogic. If an educational system is applicable 


and successful in one section, an imitation of that 
system is not necessarily the best or even suitable for 
another section. What I say related, of course, to 
technical education in relation to its application to 
manufactures. Therefore, in the light of South 
Carolina's interests, I should put the study of cotton 
manufacture ahead of that of electrical engineering, 
for example. Both are important, and neither should 
be neglected; but if the study of one must be omitted, 
I should say teach textiles and let electricity go. 

If I can serve you in any way whatever in connec- 
tion with this matter, I beg of you to command me. 

The trustees decided to establish the textile de- 
partment, and invited Tompkins as constructing 
engineer to draw the plans for the building and 
supervise its construction. This pleasant duty he 
performed with skill, energy, and enthusiasm; and 
refused to accept compensation for his services. It 
had been a labor of love. 

The dedication of the textile building and the 
inauguration of the textile department was cele- 
brated with imposing ceremonies, of which the chief 
feature was an address by Tompkins. 

His audience was composed largely of farmers. A 
few extracts from his address will show how easily he 
adapted himself to his audience and how strongly he 
could appeal to special interests and feelings: 

" I regard it a rare privilege to be permitted to have 
a hand in the establishment of this textile school here 
to-day at Clemson College. The expenditure now 
being made of twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars 
is a far better start than any of the original German 
schools had. I have no sympathy with that helpless 
sentiment which would say Philadelphia has spent a 


half million dollars on her textile school, therefore 
our meagre twenty -five thousand dollars can accom- 
plish nothing. I am one of those who believe that 
if only fifty dollars can be raised, a fifty-dollar start 
ought to be made. If we want an oak tree and have 
nothing but an acorn, let us plant the acorn and 
nurse the sprig and bush until we have the 

"This school is supported in part by farmers. 
Why should farmers pay for educating young men to 
operate cotton factories .^^ Because by the establish- 
ment of a factory in his neighborhood, with his son 
as manager, the farmer can sell not only his cotton to 
the mill but also his apples, peaches, eggs, chickens, 
cabbage, peas, and an infinite variety of stuff now 
unsaleable at any price, for cash to the operatives. 
And the money received for these is not local money 
turned over, but it is in many cases brought from 
abroad for cloth, and when let loose is in addition to 
the money wealth of a community. 

*'I hold that these new schools should be open not 
only to young men but to young women. From 
time immemorial the weavers of the world have 
been women. Why, in an advanced state of the art, 
should they be shut out.? They can design fabrics, 
they can spin and weave as well as young men. I 
favor their admission into this new textile depart- 

"I believe we are going to make more cotton at 
cheaper prices. Conventions to curtail production 
will never have any influence. The best interest of 
the farmer is to produce cotton cheaper, in larger 
quantity, thereby making it possible to send it farther 
and farther away from home. Inside of twenty 
years the United States will make fifteen million 


bales of cotton. We must make it cheap, spin it 
cheap, and weave it cheap. If we don't, other coun- 
tries will do it. The more we spin and weave, the 
cheaper we can produce cotton. This is made possi- 
ble by the foodstuffs consumed by the operatives. 
The farmer who can get money for apples that now 
rot can afford to raise and sell cotton cheaper. The 
time will come when a farmer living in a cotton manu- 
facturing neighborhood can get more money in a 
year for butter, eggs, vegetables, and fruits, than his 
present cotton crop is worth. 

"Are the people of this section fitted for factory 
management.^ I answer, Yes. In the early days of the 
republic the South led in manufactures. By the cen- 
sus of 1810 the manufactured products of Virginia, the 
Carolinas, and Georgia exceeded those of all New 
England. The manufacturing interests of the South 
were dried up by the institution of slavery. Since the 
abolition of slavery the aptitude of the Southern 
people for manufactures has again promptly shown 
itself. In the Spanish- American War the achievements 
of Hobson, Blue, Schley, and others have shown that 
with a reasonable chance the Southern youth stand 
always in the front rank. In the early days North 
and South Carolina had a well-developed iron indus- 
try. In the period since the war x\labama has set 
the pace for the manufacture of pig iron. The 
Piedmont region leads in cotton manufacture. The 
coming generation wants nothing but opportunity, 
and this opportunity is chiefly a matter of education 
of the right kind. Your agricultural college here is 
the foundation of that sort of education which makes 
the opportunity. The textile department which we 
are met here to-day to inaugurate will, in my judg- 
ment, make one of the most important departments 


in this school. Its work ought to and will largely in- 
crease the list of cash farm products. It will enhance 
the value of all lands that are near enough to a fac- 
tory to reach the operatives with auxiliary products 
that are now valueless. It is notable that all fac- 
tories in the South pay from | to | of a cent per 
pound more for cotton than the buyer for export. 

" The farmers of South Carolina may well support 
a system of education that will bring wealth to the 
people of the State. Who would enjoy it more than 
their sons and daughters.^ Some of these will farm 
and some w^ill run the factories. On the other hand, 
if our own sons and daughters are not trained for 
this work, then educated men and women must be 
brought here from other sections of our country, 
or from England and Germany, to direct the manu- 
factures, while the sons and daughters of our home 
people will be compelled to work under the direction 
of strangers. 

"I do not believe in the plan of waiting for foreign 
capital and foreign skill to come and develop our 
home industries. I believe rather in the value of 
teaching the sciences and the arts to our own boys 
and girls and of having our home industries developed 
at home by our home people. In saying this it is not 
meant to promote any sentiment for shutting out 
immigration, or to discourage the coming of foreign 
capital. People who depend on these, however, 
as against home effort, are not promoting the perma- 
nent interests of the South." 

On the recommendation of Tompkins, Mr. J. H. 
M. Beatty was chosen by the Clemson trustees as 
director of the Textile Department. Mr. Beatty 
was qualified for the work by talents and experience. 
He had been associated with Tompkins for many 


years as machinist, mill builder, mill worker, and mill 
superintendent. The organization of the depart- 
ment was entrusted to Tompkins and Beatty, who 
made comprehensive plans for its equipment, di- 
rection, and growth. 

The Clemson Textile School has surpassed the 
hopes of its most ardent friends. Its excellent work 
is a noble monument to the foresight, the public 
spirit, the engineering skill, and the organizing ability 
of Tompkins. It was one of the favorite children 
of his brain, for it represented in his mind the re- 
birth of his native state, the new foundation of a 
new South Carolina. 

Tompkins now turned his attention to his adopted 
state, and united his energy, enthusiasm, and tech- 
nical knowledge to other forces that were working 
for the establishment of a textile school in North 
Carolina. He neglected no opportunity for propa- 
ganda, and rallied all available forces, especially 
among the mill men of the Piedmont section. A fine 
sample of his skill, tactful management, and power as 
a promoter of public sentiment, is furnished by his 
utilizing for this campaign the closing exercises of 
the Atherton Mills Night School of Charlotte. He 
was president of the mills, founder and benefactor 
of the mill schools, friendly adviser in all the school 
work. The night school was a novelty in Charlotte 
and a favorite with the public. Its closing exer- 
cises were greeted by large audiences. The occasion 
was favorable for creating sentiment, and Tompkins 
used it. He selected as orator the Hon. Heriot 
Clarkson, leading member-elect to the Legislature 
from Charlotte; secured the attendance of promi- 
nent mill owners ands uperintendents; saw to it that 
influential mill workers from adjacent mills were on 


hand and treated with consideration; procured, as 
the honored and distinguished guest of the occasion, 
Director Beatty of the South Carohna Textile School. 
He focused on the closing exercises of this little night 
school the power, the enthusiasm, and the light of a 
hundred different forces. Everything went off with 
apparent ease and spontaneity; but those who knew 
Tompkins knew whose guiding hand was working 

The Textile Excelsior gave the following account of 
the occasion: "Give honor where honor is due. 
Those men of our Southern country who are devoting 
much of their valuable time and talents to the cause 
of education and to the bettering of the conditions of 
our factory workers deserve present recognition 
for their services. The result of this means not the 
personal glorification of any of the leaders of such 
movements, but the awakening and cooperation 
of the communities. In this way the improvements 
are effected. D. A. Tompkins, of Charlotte, has 
been very active in this work of humanity. Through 
all the mediums of his sphere, and they are many 
and far-reaching, he has used his influence for good in 
this direction. His efforts, as chief promoter of the 
present South Carolina Textile School, as coadjutor 
with Dr. McAden and other mill presidents in bring- 
ing the hours for factory labor voluntarily down to 
eleven per day, all redound to his credit. As president 
of the Atherton Mills, Charlotte, Mr. Tompkins takes 
an individual interest in the factory hands. He has 
provided them not only a day school, but a night 
school as well. Closing exercises of the latter for 
the Christmas season were held in the Atherton Ly- 
ceum a week ago. On this occasion Heriot Clarkson, 
Esq., who has just been elected to the Legislature 


from this county, delivered a short address on * Prac- 
tical Education,' and in the course of his remarks 
said that it was his purpose to introduce in the com- 
ing Legislature a bill for a state textile school, and he 
intended to use his utmost endeavor to get the bill 
passed; that he thought it would be a most import- 
ant movement and of great benefit to the mill owners 
and operatives in the State. Mr. Clarkson is one of 
the warmest friends of education for the masses, 
and of technical education for mechanics, artisans, 
and mill men, we have ever met. Several prominent 
mill men were present, also Prof. J. H. M. Beatty, 
director of the South Carolina Textile School, who 
said that he would be glad to see a textile school in 
North Carolina and would do anything he could to 
forward the movement. Mr. Tompkins awarded 
the prizes, which he had personally offered to inspire 
the students to greater progress." 

On the meeting of the North Carolina Legislature 
Representative Clarkson promptly introduced his 
bill "for the establishment of the Vance Textile 
School." The bill was referred to the Committee 
on Education, of which a sub-committee was ap- 
pointed to consider and report. Mr. Clarkson was 
chairman of the sub-committee, and at his request 
Mr. Tompkins furnished the committee with the 
following facts and figures: 

"Gentlemen — Pursuant to suggestions made by 
you and other members of the House, I submit the 
following data : 

Cotton raised in North Carolina, crop 

'96- '97, bales 521,695 

Cotton manufactured in cotton mills, 

'98, bales 326,700 


Spindles in South Carolina .... 1,325,390 

Spindles in North Carolina. . . . 1,054,686 

Spindles in Georgia 749,314 

No. mills in North Carolina. . . . 220 

No. mills in South Carolina. ... 75 

No. mills in Georgia 69 

Looms in South Carolina .... 39,458 

Looms in North Carolina .... 24,535 

Looms in Georgia 21,094 


Men . . . 
Women . . 
Children over 14 
Girls under 14. 
Boys under 14. 

Total wage earners . 

No. people supported directly 

Aggregate wages .... 









Value of 500,000 bales cotton (about 
the State's crop) at 6 cts. . 

Same, manufactured, at 18 cts. 

Same, manufactured into finer goods, 
at 36 cts. (if we know how). . 

Enhanced value of raw crop at J cts. 

Perishable foodstuffs now annually 
paid for by operatives, formerly 
unsaleable (estimated) .... 

Expenditures by State government to 
foster or promote this particular 







Superintendent of North Carolina mills 

born and trained in other states 

(estimated) 100 

Average salary (estimated) . . . . $1,500 

"Time to build a school and put it in operation, six 
months to one year. 

"Some of these figures were kindly given me by 
the Bureau of Labor Statistics; most of them are 
estimates or taken from memory. 


Cost of building $10,000 

Cost of machinery, equipment . . 15,000 

Cost of operating each year. . . . 5,000 


One Professor $1,500 

One Assistant 1,000 

One Assistant 600 

Other Expenses $2,600—6,000 

"Regular Course Study — Two years for young 
men; special course for mill men. Could teach 50 
pupils in regular course and 50 more in special in- 
struction. Pupils from North Carolina now in North- 
ern schools for textiles (estimated), 50. Tuition — 
Regular course, $60; special students, $5 a month; 
extra special as may be agreed. 

"One school to start with in helping along to put 
value on cotton is very little to ask of the State. The 
mill men and operatives both want such a school. 
With astonishing frequency I have inquiries from 
bright and energetic young men about where they 


can go to learn the complete processes of spinning 
and weaving. With astonishing frequency mill 
o\\Tiers are hunting men who know enough to super- 
intend a mill, and not finding them at home have to 
send to New England or Old England. 

"The mills, the operatives, and the youth of the 
State all need this school, and its provision by the 
Legislature would be a popular act." 

The sub-committee recommended the bill; and in 
due time a meeting of the full committee was held for 
public hearings and discussion. The state papers 
of January 20, 1899, tell the story: 

"The establishment of a textile school was the 
question discussed before the House Committee 
on Education yesterday. Not only was there a 
full meeting of the committee, but there were many 
visitors present to hear and take part in the discus- 
sion, among them the following prominent mill 

"William Entwistle, John Gilligan, Dr. J. H. 
McAden, George E. Wilson, Dr. George A. Mebane, 
JuHan S. Carr, R. S. Rhinehart, R. J. Brevard, C. T. 
Holt, E. L. Mooring, Donald McRae, W. H. William- 

"The bill immediately under consideration was that 
introduced last week by Mr. Clarkson, of Mecklen- 
burg, for the establishment of the Vance Textile 
School. Though Mr. Clarkson was present and 
briefly explained the bill, the discussion that followed 
was upon the general subject of textile schools and 
the need for one in North Carolina rather than upon 
the particular provisions contained in the bill before 
the committee." 

A large delegation from Charlotte was seeking to 


secure the school for that city as the centre of the 
cotton-milling industry in the two Carolinas. A 
delegation from Raleigh urged the establishment of 
the school as a department of the State College of 
Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, located in West 
Raleigh. Speeches were made by Mr. George E. 
Wilson, president of the Victor Cotton Mills, Meck- 
lenburg County; by Maj. E. J. Hale, editor of the 
Fayetteville Observer, formerly United States Consul 
to Manchester, England, who "talked most in- 
terestingly of the textile schools in that great cotton- 
manufacturing centre"; by Mr. William Entwistle, 
superintendent of two of Rockingham's eight cotton- 
mills, "who came to this country from Lancashire, 
England, twenty-seven years ago as a mill worker"; 
by Prof. J. A. Holmes, State Geologist; by Mr. W. U. 
Hall, of the Bureau of Labor Statistics; by Mr. W. 
S. Primrose, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the 
State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts; 
by Mr. Richard H. Battle, and others. One of the 
most forcible speeches was made by Mr. W. J. 
Peele, chairman of a Committee of the Watauga 
Club,* who read a memorial of the club asking that 
the Textile School be established as a department of 
the State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. 
"Wherever estabUshed," said he, "it ought to be in 
close touch with the mills and the mill men. They 
ought to be the directors of the institution, and all 
parts of the State ought to be represented." 

The best of all the speeches was that of D. A. 
Tompkins, who was introduced as one of the main- 
springs in the cotton mill movement in North 

•The Watauga Club was an organization of progressive and public-spirited young men 
seeking to promote the industrial and educational advancement of the State. This club, 
under the leadership of W. J. Peele and Walter H. Page, had been a potent factor m 
securing the establishment of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, 


Carolina, and known all over the South. Mr. 
Tompkins' talk was intensely practical. He de- 
clared that there was a great need of specialists — 
highly trained specialists — and that no money could 
be better spent than in training specialists to take 
charge of North Carolina's greatest manufacturing 
interest, the cotton mills. "Every dollar this Legis- 
lature, or others, may spend on textile schools will be 
returned a thousandfold. The question is not — 
*Can we afford to build the school .^'^but, 'Can we 
afford not to build it? ' If we do not train our young 
men and our young women, foreigners — by which is 
meant persons from other states — will get the posi- 
tions and salaries and in many cases will eventually 
own the mills. 

"North Carolina was a manufacturing state 75 
years ago. In 1810 its people knew many times more 
about cotton and woolen manufacture than they 
know now, because then they made their own 
clothes. They made then many things better than 
they do now; but the growth of slavery drove out 
manufactures. Now we are coming to the front 
again, as we have $20,000,000 invested in cotton 
mills. These mills add greatly to our wealth; they 
raise the price of cotton to our home farmers at least 
one fourth of a cent, and they pay in wages an aver- 
age of $5 a week to 30,000,000 workers employed in 
the mills. The mills consume about 320,000,000 
bales of cotton yearly. This cotton — worth in the 
raw state 5 cents to 7 cents a pound — brings when 
manufactured 15 cents to 20 cents. 

"If the school was started the bulk of machinery 
needed for teaching would be given by manufac- 
turers. The textile school in South Carolina cost 
about $30,000, of which $15,000 was given by the 


State. There is going to be a textile school in 
North Carolina. South Carolina and Georgia al- 
ready have schools; Alabama and Mississippi are 
considering the matter. In less than ten years we 
will have $500,000 invested in a textile school. Our 
own children will make us do it." 

Although the committee reported the bill favor- 
ably, a deficit in the state treasury, a financial panic, 
and a low price for cotton made its defeat inevitable 
before a timid Legislature. 

But the prediction of Tompkins was fulfilled two 
years later when the next Legislature, yielding to 
strong popular demand, provided for a textile 
department of the State College of Agriculture and 
Mechanic Arts. Tompkins was a member of the 
Board of Trustees of the college; and, at their 
request, he drew the plans for the textile building and 
supervised its construction. He would not accept 
compensation for his indispensable services. His 
wise counsel and active cooperation in obtaining a 
competent director and faculty for the school, in 
securing donations of textile machinery, in arranging 
the courses of instruction, and in making known the 
advantages of the school to the North Carolina 
public, were beyond estimate in promoting its suc- 
cess. It started off with power and efficiency; and 
its subsequent career has been a fulfilment of its 
great mission. For this achievement Tompkins was 
chiefly responsible; he was its promoter, its builder, 
its organizer, and from its beginning until his death 
its chief friend and counsellor. 

The next work of Tompkins and one of his finest 
achievements was the establishment of the 
Mississippi Textile School. This he accomplished 
by a single speech. Public sentiment in Mississippi 


was favorable to a textile school. The speeches and 
writings of Tompkins and other industrial leaders had 
prepared the ground; and the existence of similar 
schools in North and South Carolina and Georgia had 
aroused in ^lississippi a feeling of generous rivalry. 

But public sentiment was not unanimous, and the 
establishment of the school by no means assured. 
The Legislature met; and a bill was promptly in- 
troduced to establish a textile school as a department 
of the State Agricultural and Mechanical College. 

At this critical moment Tompkins arrived in 
Jackson, in response to private telegrams, and was 
greeted by an invitation from the Legislature to 
address them on the advantages of textile schools. 
The two houses met in joint session; and after hear- 
ing a powerful, convincing, and inspiring speech from 
Tompkins, passed the bill without discussion. Of 
this speech the New Orleans Picayune said: "The 
speech delivered by Mr. Tompkins came in the 
nick of time, removing all doubt among certain 
members as to the wisdom of such an appropriation. 
This is the greatest work that this Legislature has 
done. It serves notice on the world that Mississippi 
is going to be in a position not only to foster cotton 
mills but that the sons and daughters of the State are 
to reap the salaries that in the absence of textile 
education must inevitablj^ go to the sons and 
daughters of other states who would come to 
Mississippi equipped to earn such salaries and to 
officer the mills — building, and to be built." 

The trustees of the college engaged Tompkins to 
design the plant, organize the equipment of 
machinery, and formulate the courses of study and 
training for the new textile school. This duty he 
performed with his accustomed skill, efficiency, and 


unselfish patriotism, refusing compensation for his 

By invitation of the Legislature of Texas Tomp- 
kins discussed before a joint session of that body the 
subject of textile schools; and, subsequently, follow- 
ing the example of North Carolina, South Carolina, 
and Mississippi, the State of Texas established a 
textile school as a department of its Agricultural and 
Mechanical College. 

A similar discussion was made by Tompkins before 
the Legislature of Louisiana, at the close of which the 
following resolution was adopted: 

"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representa- 
tives in joint session assembled. That the earnest 
thanks of these bodies be tendered the Hon. D. A. 
Tompkins, of North Carolina, for his able, instruc- 
tive, and patriotic address and effort to lift the South 
from the slough of industrial depression, and to light 
it back to that high plane of prosperity in which 
it stood in ante-bellum days." 

Tompkins' speech before the Mississippi Legisla- 
ture was as follows: 

"the importance of textile education and 
textile schools in the south 

"Since the foundation of the republic three 
generations have lived and passed away. In the 
first third of the century, dating from the War of 
Independence, the South led in education, in manu- 
factures, in commerce, and in wealth. In the second 
third of the century the South still led in education 
and in wealth, but the institution of slavery had 
stifled our manufactures and seriously impeded the 
progress of our commerce and brought on the 


Civil War, which ended with the abolition of the 

*' In the last third of a century the South has been 
carrying on another war, a war of more than thirty 
years for white supremacy. The Civil War, from 
'60 to '65, demonstrated the tremendous force of 
character and courage of the people of the South. 
The thirty years' war for white supremacy and Anglo- 
Saxon civilization demonstrated that the sons of 
those who had been charged with being impetuous 
fire-eaters could be infinitely patient, judicial minded, 
and firm as a rock in standing for a principle involving 
Christian civilization. 

"When slavery existed, the manufactures estab- 
lished by our grandfathers were dried up. When 
slavery was abolished, it was impossible to reestab- 
lish manufactures pending the restoration of law and 

''Promptly on the restoration of governments 
capable of guaranteeing security manufactures began 
at once to grow. 

"Our grandfathers were a great people. So also 
were our fathers. But the greatest generation of 
Southern people is the one that since the Civil War 
has at all times trained one hand to arms for the 
defence of Southern homes, while the other has been 
kept trained to those occupations that would make a 
living for those living in the homes. Speaking in 
round numbers, I give the following record: 

"In the first decade after the Civil War we made 
2,500,000 bales of cotton at twenty-four cents, 
$300,000,000. In the second decade we made 
5,000,000 bales of cotton at twelve cents, 
$300,000,000. In the third decade we made 10,000,- 
000 bales of cotton at six cents, $300,000,000. 


"This is a wonderful record and a discouraging 
record. Four times the cotton and exactly the same 

" Meantime, India and Egypt are now making more 
cotton than we made twenty years ago. The tread- 
ing upon our heels by those countries, with larger 
quantities of cotton at lowering prices, makes it 
clear that there can be no remedy in curtailment of 
production to increase price. Any curtailment of 
our production means that the people of other coun- 
tries will make more cotton. If we would continue 
to control the production, we must make large 
quantities at cheap prices. 

"This monopoly has been so far preserved by wise 
legislation of the various Southern States. It has 
been done by establishment of agricultural colleges, 
departments of agriculture, boards of fertilizer 
control, and other liberal and advantageous meas- 

"With the highest opinion of the value and the 
necessity for all these measures, I want to show you 
that there is another end to this problem on which 
we can work to advantage. We can continue the 
control of the production of cotton by its manu- 

"The fortunes of the cotton farmer and planter 
can best be revived by the manufacture of cotton. 
It is a great thing to have developed the production 
of cotton to the extent of 10,000,000 bales. This 
alone is sufficient to mark the people of the South 
to be of great capabilities and resources. Other 
countries have the land, the climate, and the people, 
but none have developed the business to any com- 
mercial proportions, except on lines you have laid 
out. But you have reduced the production to such 


perfection that while still further improvement is 
possible, an improvement of one cent a pound in 
reduction of cost of production would mean only 
$50,000,000 saving on the entire crop. 

"If, however, we manufacture the whole crop into 
the simplest, plain white cloth we change its value 
from $300,000,000 to $1,000,000,000. Here is a 
profit to the South of $700,000,000, or more than two 
hundred per cent. Of course, this is not profit to the 
stockholder, but if our home people do the work, and 
Southern fuel and other supplies are used, the whole 
increased sum must be profit to the South. Much of 
it goes to labor now unemployed or unprofitably 

"To make a simpler proposition, let us take 
10,000 bales as the production of an average county. 
These at six cents (average price the last few years) 
would yield $300,000. Now let this cotton be 
manufactured into plain, white sheetings, which sell 
at five cents a yard, and the product is worth 
$1,000,000. xVssume that this is done with home 
people (and in North Carolina it is), is done with 
home fuel (and it can be), and practically the whole 
increased sum becomes profit to the county. In 
other words, a county which sells its 10,000 bales of 
raw cotton gets for it, from England or Germany, 
$300,000, while, manufactured at home, the county 
gets the following: 

Farmers, for foodstuffs $250,000 

Merchants and bankers, for groceries, 

clothing, discounts, interest, etc. . 150,000 

Stockholders' profits 100,000 

Farmers, for wood and miscellaneous ser- 
vices and supplies 50,000 


Lawyers, doctors, preachers, and teachers . $50,000 

Savings of operatives out of wages, etc. . 25,000 
Improved roads, public buildings, and 

other public improvements . . . 25,000 

Wasted by operatives 25,000 

Miscellaneous 25,000 

"It will be seen that out of this extra return the 
farmer gets an extra $300,000, or just as much money 
as he got for his raw cotton. He would get this for 
his perishable products, which now practically have 
no markets. These would be meat, meal, flour, 
chickens, eggs, butter, milk, potatoes, onions, 
cabbage, turnips, peaches, apples — in truth, for 
everything that grows on a farm. 

"By means of the factory and the demands it 
makes upon the farm the land is vastly increased in 
value. It transpires that wherever cotton is tripled 
in value by manufacture, then the adjacent farms are 
also tripled in value. 

"It is by this means we can continue to control the 
production of cotton. Double the farmer's income 
on a fixed production of cotton and he can continue 
to produce the cotton for the world and undersell the 

"The development of the South requires manu- 
factures. The interests of the cotton farmer require, 
above all things, that his cotton be manufactured at 
home to give him home markets for all his other farm 

"The development of manufactures requires, 
first of all, education and transportation. England 
and Germany send ships here for our cotton at an 
average price of six cents a pound. Those countries 
manufacture it, and re-sell the products to South 


America, South Africa, China, and other countries at 
twenty cents a pound and upward to unbelievable 
prices per pound. It stands to reason they won't be 
willing to furnish subsidized ships and handle our 
cloth to the injury of their own trade. 

"We have the best domestic transportation 
facilities in the world in our railroads. Wealth and 
education considered, we have the worst ocean trans- 
portation in the world. Our domestic markets are 
the best developed and most valuable in the world. 

"If we get our ocean transportation to the same 
degree of efficiency as our domestic facilities, then we 
might safely extend the development of cotton 
manufacture to cover the entire crop. We now 
manufacture in the United States about one fourth 
the crop. This supplies our domestic market. We 
have commenced the development of some foreign 
markets with success. If we continue to develop our 
manufactures we must continue to develop our 
ocean transportation facilities to put us in position to 
sell our goods economically and profitably in foreign 
countries. If we do this we can manufacture the 
whole of our cotton into cloth, if we know enough 
about the processes of manufacture to turn the 
cotton into marketable shapes. This means tech- 
nical, and especially textile, education. 

"I urgently advise that you make a liberal ap- 
propriation to establish a textile department at your 
Agricultural and Mechanical College. It should be 
open to both sexes. Your grandmothers spun and 
wove, and there is no reason for excluding your 
daughters from the use of any facilities to learn to 
spin and weave now. 

"The presidents were formally selected from the 
South, not by accident, but because they were the 


best educated people of the Union. Also because 
they had great interests developed, and great in- 
terests require and develop great statesmen as great 
wars require and develop great generals. 

''To develop here a great industry and great 
interests cotton is your best basis. You must have 
schools to teach the science and art of cotton manu- 

"The best contentment in life comes from having 
learned to do some profitable thing better than any- 
body else can do it. To accomplish this, study and 
practice are necessary. It is as easy to learn all 
about a loom as it is to learn all about football. It 
requires as much practice to become a superior 
weaver as it does to become a superior football 

"The management of a spinning frame and the 
making of yarn is not near so difficult as the manage- 
ment of a sewing machine and the making of clothes. 
In every household it is well understood that a careful 
study of the principles of a sewing machine and a lot 
of practice are necessary to the making of a satis- 
factory operator on a machine. It is better for 
a girl to go to some normal school or female college, 
but it is not necessary. Some of the very best 
housewives never go to college at all. They acquire 
superior capabilities by careful observation and 
continued practice. As it is in the household so it is 
in a factory. The average girl knows that if she 
would keep a good house, she must study and practice. 
Perhaps her mother is her only teacher, and she may 
have no opportunity to practice except at home. 

"The boy who expects to manufacture cotton 
should learn the principles involved in each machine 
in the mill and acquire the necessary skill to operate 


it, just as his sister learns the sewing machine and 
cooking utensils at home, and acquires skill in the 
handling of them. 

"In modem education far too little stress is laid on 
practice, where the future occupation is to be in- 
dustrial. Manufacturing, housekeeping, music, and 
painting are all sciences and arts. The schools may 
teach the sciences involved, and to a limited extent 
the arts. Take music, for instance. It may be 
taught at school, and to a limited extent practised at 
school, but to be a successful musician means long 
and arduous practice after the schooldays. In 
music the teachers all emphasize the futility of ex- 
pecting success in music without this arduous 
practice subsequent to the schooldays. But many 
of the technical schools let the idea grow amongst the 
students that the college course alone will fit them to 
manufacture cloth or make yarns. For the best 
work the school is essential in manufactures as in 
music. But also for the best work practice is as 
essential in manufactures as in music. The best 
music draws the biggest crowd to the concert. 
Every musician will say that, as a rule, the best 
music means the most practice. The best cloth will 
have the preference in every store. The best cloth 
means the most skill, which in turn again means the 
most arduous practice. So it is in housekeeping, so 
in painting, and in other callings. Genius is mostly 

"Of two boys, one having a fine technical educa- 
tion with a little practice, the other having only a 
common school education, and having served a full 
apprenticeship, the chances for success are four to one 
in favor of the latter. Put the technical education 
and the apprenticeship together, and the young 


man having both is at once a master of his occupa- 

"The latter is the way it was with the planter's 
son before the war. From the day of his birth till he 
went to college he was serving an apprenticeship on a 
plantation. He didn't realize it, but he did serve the 
apprenticeship. He rode the mules, drove the 
horses, helped feed the hogs, was in close touch with 
the negroes. At twenty-one years of age, with or 
without a college education, he could run a planta- 
tion, and do it well. Nine times out of ten he was 
successful in life. 

"The youth of to-day needs the same sort of 
education to fit him for modern conditions. The 
youth of to-day ought to understand a loom as well 
as his grandfather did a mule. He ought to know 
every phase of cotton manufacture as well as his 
grandfather knew every phase of its production. 
Practice in the different operations is the way to get 
the skill. 

"In thus exhibiting the importance of practical 
training with this technical textile education I am 
urging upon you, I do so to show that the higher 
education in this line will open up the way for prac- 
tical and profitable occupation for every boy and 
girl now unoccupied, even though they do not have 
opportunity to go to the technical school. Let the 
higher school open up the way with its higher teach- 
ing and training, and this opens up the way for 
profitable occupation and opportunity for every 
farmer's son or daughter in the State, and for all 
other people who need an opportunity to get a start 
in life. I am a machinist by trade, and made my 
start in life as a machinist. The chance that spin- 
ning and weaving offers for a start in life, though 


lowly in the beginning, has before it unlimited op- 
portunity for wealth and honor. Some of the 
most distinguished men of the world have often 
started some narrative by saying, *When I was a 

It may truly be said of Tompkins that he was the 
chief promoter and builder of Southern textile 
schools, as he had been of cotton mills and cotton oil 
mills. With him schools and mills were both essen- 
tial parts of a great industrial system. 

"We have reached the limit," said he, "of what 
may be done with picked-up knowledge and ignorant 
labor. The remedy is schools for textile instruction. 
They will multiply mills, enhance the value of mill 
products, and create home markets for perishable 
farm produce. Cotton mills and textile schools to- 
gether make the remedy for the depressed condi- 
tion of farming in the South." 



THE culmination of Tompkins' career as a 
missionary of cotton was his authorship of 
books on cotton industries. These books 
were the products of his experience, and dealt with 
actual mill problems in the Southern States. They 
are intended for books of instruction in textile 
schools and for the guidance of mill owners, mill 
builders, and mill workers. Although sufficiently 
technical, they are interesting to the general reader, 
as they furnish a picture of the Old South growing 
into the new. 

His first book was entitled, " Cotton Mill Processes 
and Calculations, an elementary textbook for the 
use of textile schools and for home study, with ap- 
pendix containing tables, rules, and recipes. 300 
pages, 50 original drawings." 

In the preface the author states the plan and 
purpose of the book, and sums up for cotton mill 
apprentices the philosophy of success: 

"It has been attempted in this volume to give a 
description of the machines, and exhibit their 
various functions; also to give rules and formulas for 
making the calculations, in such a simple way that 
they may be followed out by any person of ordinary 
intelligence, and with only a limited common school 

"To the student and apprentice, for whom this 



book is intended, it might not be amiss to say that 
skill in operating machines and in keeping a manu- 
facturing process well balanced throughout cannot 
be acquired by reading any book. Both knowledge 
and skill are necessary in the production of good 
music. So, in the manufacture of cotton, knowledge 
and skill are equally necessary to get the best results. 
The best success will not come to the young man who 
acquires the fullest knowledge and omits the practice 
necessary to make him skilful. Neither w^ill it come 
to the one who works longest and hardest, and never 
studies. But rather to the one who with discretion 
and energy devotes reasonable time to the acquisition 
of both knowledge and skill." 

The first edition was quickly exhausted, being 
widely used in mills and textile schools, as well as in 
demand by general readers and students of the 
industrial South. Its commendation by the press 
was equally gratifying. "One of the best books ever 
published in the South," said the Raleigh News and 
Observer, "is 'Cotton Mill Processes and Calculations,' 
by Mr. D. A. Tompkins, the practical and wise 
manufacturer of Charlotte. This book may be 
said to mark a mile-post in the industrial history of 
North CaroHna. The State has passed out of the 
experiment of manufacturing raw cotton into yarn; 
it will henceforth teach the youths of this and other 
states. Yesterday it sat in the schoolroom, near the 
foot of the class, doubtful if it could be a great 
manufacturing state; to-day it is a teacher, with 
pupils thronging its industrial academies desiring to 
learn the problem of converting raw cotton profitably 
into finished products. In the industrial progress of 
the State Mr. Tompkins has been a helpful and 
inspiring factor. His book will be invaluable, and 


the fact that there is a demand for it shows that we go 

"Cotton Mill Processes and Calculations," said 
the Norfolk Landmark, "is in every respect a notable 
work. It is the first book written and published in 
the South on the important subject of cotton manu- 
facturing. Mr. Tompkins is intensely practical. 
What he has to say is not based upon mere theoretical 
knowledge but also upon actual and extensive ex- 
perience. No man is better qualified to utilize 
experience, and profit by its lessons, than is Mr. 
Tompkins. To the youthful student and the 
apprentice, especially, Mr. Tompkins addresses 
himself, desiring to impress upon the young workman 
of intelligence and ambition the great truth that 
success comes not to mere skill of the hand and eye, 
nor to mere theoretical knowledge, but to a judicious 
combination of manual skill and technical knowl- 
edge. The whole wisdom of active life is here 
condensed by Mr. Tompkins into the compass of a 
few words." 

His next book was entitled: "Cotton Mill 
Commercial Features, a textbook for the use of 
textile schools and investors, w^ith tables showing 
cost of machinery and equipments for mills making 
cotton yarns and plain cotton cloths." 

"This is the author's second volume of a series on 
cotton mill subjects," said the Manufacturers^ 
Record, "The first volume treated of the interior 
detail of cotton mill machinery and its management. 
The present volume is devoted to the commercial 
and financial aspects of the business. It is a book 
which the business man can read with pleasure. It 
is not encumbered with technicalities which usually 
load down books treating of special industries. It 


is a straightforward and easy discussion of the busi- 
ness principles underlying the organization of a new 
company for cotton manufacture, the building of the 
plant, keeping the accounts, and disposing of the 
product. The author is a Southern man intensely 
interested (financially and sentimentally) in Southern 
institutions, but he takes pains to show in every case 
that the true road to advancement in cotton manu- 
facturing lies in the harmonious cooperation with 
Northern and Eastern mills for the acquisition of the 
world's markets." 

"A valuable feature of this book," said the New 
Orleans Picayune, "is its presentation of the theory 
that more wealth accrues from the sale of the manu- 
factured article than of the raw material. The 
author directs attention to the great increase of 
cotton manufacturing in the cotton states. He 
adduces many striking facts to show how the new 
enterprises have worked for the general prosperity of 
the South. In a suggestive chapter on textile 
education Mr. Tompkins deals with the movement 
on behalf of technical training which has lately 
sprung up in the Southern States. He explains at 
some length exactly what ought to be taught in 
textile schools. Another chapter is devoted to the 
new conditions of labor which have sprung up as a 
result of the evolution of the negro. Mr. Tompkins 
even goes so far in this subject as to present plans 
for cheap but comfortable houses for the accommoda- 
tion of the laboring class. This work is unique as 
well as comprehensive. Mr. Tompkins has rendered 
a great service to the South in compiling it. The 
book is copiously illustrated, the plans of machinery 
and mill construction being a particularly valuable 


His next book was entitled: "Cotton Values in 
Textile Fabrics, A Collection of Cloth Samples, 
iVrranged to Show the Value of Cotton, when Con- 
verted Into Various Kinds of Cloth." 

The purpose and character of this book are set 
forth in the preface, which says: 

"This collection of samples of cotton goods with 
data on costs per j^ard and per pound was prepared 
to show the possibilities that lie in our cotton crop. 
Opposite each sample is shown the value of a good 
North Carolina crop, 500,000 bales, reckoned as raw 
material, and sold at a normal average price of six 
cents per pound or thirty dollars per bale. Con- 
trasted with this valuation is shown what the same 
half million bales would bring if manufactured into 
goods like the samples, at normal average prices. 

"The cheapest sample showTi is duck, worth four- 
teen cents per pound. Half a million bales of 
cotton in this shape would bring thirty-five million 
dollars, or nearly two and a half times its value in the 
raw state. The whole crop of the country, say 
eleven million bales, if manufactured into this goods 
and sold at this price, would show a gain over the 
raw price of more than four hundred million dollars, 
or more than five dollars per capita for all the people 
of the Continental United States. 

"To manufacture the entire cotton crop into duck 
would be a misfortune, somewhat akin to selling the 
entire crop in its raw state. But cotton may be made 
into numerous other forms to produce even greater 
values, as is shown by the succeeding samples, the 
last of which shows that if the North Carolina crop 
could be converted into Swiss embroidery and sold 
at twenty dollars per pound, it would bring five 
billion dollars. This is about equal to all the money 


received for all the raw cotton grown in the United 
States in the past twenty years. It is more than 
enough to buy all the cotton and woolen mills in the 
world ! 

"To manufacture the entire crop of the country 
into embroidery would be as undesirable as to turn it 
all into duck. These extreme figures are given to 
show the v/ide range of possibilities in the business. 
They exhibit the relative gain in both cases and not 
the absolute result to be attained. 

"All of the samples shown are made of cotton; but 
some of the finest were not made of the ordinary 
cotton of our commerce, and therefore it may be 
contended that the claim for such princely values in 
our cotton is beyond the mark. But the goods were 
made of a kind of cotton. This cotton was grown 
under certain conditions. If these conditions were 
well understood, and the production of cotton carried 
on with sufficient skill, these fine grades of cotton 
could be raised over large areas now devoted to the 
ordinary kind. 

"Therefore the argument resolves itself into a 
question of proper education and thrift to turn a 
possible cotton crop into thousands of times the 
money now realized on it by the people who produce 
it. In other words, in undertaking to exliibit the 
values to which cotton may be brought the subject 
covers improvement of the lint by the grower as well 
as improvement in spinning and weaving by the 

"Part of the difference between the price of raw 
cotton and the retail prices affixed to the samples 
shown is created by the merchant and not all by the 
manufacturer. But nevertheless there is a gain to 
the community by reason of the goods having been 


manufactured at home. The very process of manu- 
facturing is conducive to greater volume of mer- 
cantile business from the fact that many people are 
thus given employment who would otherwise be idle. 
These people become wealth producers, and become 
much larger consumers of all commodities than 

"The grower of unimproved raw cotton now 
receives but a modicum of its possible value. It is 
hoped that this collection of samples, though giving 
but a minute suggestion of the infinite possibilities, 
may point the way to greater returns for the labor 
of the people in the cotton-growing states, and lead 
them to find out the steps necessary to acquire the 
skill for producing better qualities of cotton, and for 
turning this better cotton into goods of greater 

This little book went like a missionary through the 
South. Five editions were called for in five years. 

It shows at a glance the value, on the one hand, of 
finished products and skilled labor; on the other 
hand, of raw material and untrained muscle. 


Not Manufactured: — sold in bales 

@ 6 cts $ 15,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Duck @ 14 

cts. per lb 35,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Drilling @ 16 

cts 40,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Sheeting @ 

18 cts 45,000,000 

•The prices given in this table were the market prices at the^me of the publication of 
the little book. 


Manufactured: — into Bleaching @ 

20 cts $ 50,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Tick @ 24 

cts 60,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Cheviot @ 26 

cts 65,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Denim @ 30 

cts 75,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Plain Ging- 
ham @ 34 cts 85,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Shade Cloth 

@ 34 cts 85,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Madras @ 40 

cts 100,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Long Cloth @ 

70 cts 175,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Mercerized 

Cloth @ $1 250,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Gingham 

Lawn @ $1.70 425,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Poplin @ 

$1.80 450,000,000 

Manufactured: — into Fancy Ging- 
ham @ $2.20 550,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Persian Lawn 

@ $4 1,000,000,000 

Manufactured : — into Embroidery 

@ $20 5,000,000,000 

The last and in many respects the most interest- 
ing of his books on cotton industries was the follow- 
ing: "Cotton and Cotton Oil: — Cotton Planting, 
Cultivating, Harvesting, and Preparation for market 
— Cottonseed Oil Mills Organization, Construction, 
and Operation — Cattle Feeding, Production of Beef 


and Dairy Products, Cottonseed Meal and Hulls as 
Stock Feed — Fertilizer INIanufacture, Manipulation, 
and Uses. Full Information for Investor, Student, 
and Practical Mechanic." 

Aside from its technical contents, "Cotton and 
Cotton Oil " is full of interest. It describes Southern 
industrial conditions before, during, and after the 
Civil War, the old Southern plantation, the growing 
and marketing of cotton, the growth and influence of 
cotton mills, the utilization of cottonseed, and the 
beginning of a new agriculture. It contains a very 
interesting chapter intended to show that the cotton 
saw gin was invented by Hodgin Holmes, of Georgia, 
and appropriated afterward by Eli Whitney, whose 
invention was a roller set with teeth or spikes, but 
lacking saws. 

The four books forming this series have been highly 
praised : 

"The Editor of Cotton and Finance,'' says Theo. H. 
Price, "desires to make our acknowledgments to 
Mr. D. A. Tompkins for some pictures of the cotton 
boll in its various stages of development recently 
published by Cotton and Finance, They were taken 
from * Cotton and Cotton Oil,' one of a series of 
books of which he is the author. These books, taken 
together, form the most valuable and compact 
reference library with regard to the history of cotton 
cultivation and manufacturing of which the writer 
has any knowledge." 

"This series of books," says the Manufacturers' 
Record, "is devoted to various aspects of the cotton 
trade — growing the crop, manufacturing it into 
different classes of goods, selling these and finding 
new markets abroad for increased sale and consump- 
tion. Each book is an attempt to supply a much- 


felt need for full information about the cotton 
manufacturing business. There has been no class 
of literature like this published in the United States. 
Presented as it is from the American standpoint, it is 
interesting and instructive." 

An addendum to the series is, "American Com- 
merce: Its Expansion, a collection of addresses and 
pamphlets relating to the extension of foreign mar- 
kets for American manufactures." 

Besides his books on industrial subjects Tompkins 
published "A History of Mecklenburg County and 
the City of Charlotte," in two volumes; Vol. 1 "con- 
taining the simple narrative," and Vol. 2 "In the 
nature of an appendix, containing ample discussions 
of important events, a collection of biographies and 
many official documents justifying and verifying 
the statements in the narrative." Among interest- 
ing topics discussed in these volumes are : The Meck- 
lenburg Declaration of Independence, The Early 
Settlers in the Piedmont Section, Education, Religion, 
Slavery, Industrial Life, the Revolution, The Civil 
War and Reconstruction. 

Tompkins also published in pamphlet form many 
of his speeches. He was an active, ready, and zealous 
speaker; and wishing to extend the influence of his 
speeches by widening the circle of readers, he pub- 
lished them in convenient form for circulation, pres- 
ervation, and reference. 

The activity of his mind and the strength of his 
desire to educate and stimulate public opinion are 
shown in the following list of pamphlets of which he 
was the author: The Unification and Enlargement 
of American Interests; Cotton Growing; Road Build- 
ing and Repairs; Road Building and Broad Tires; 
Nursing and Nurses; Home Acquiring and Industrial 


Insurance; The Currency; American Merchant Ma- 
rine; The Tariff; National Expansion; Cottonseed 
and Its Products; Cotton— The Mill Man's Point 
of View; Labor and Legislation; A Plan to Raise 
Capital; Cotton as a Factor in Progress; Export 
Trade; Markets for American Goods; The Storing 
and Marketing of Cotton; Fourth of July Address; 
Patriotic Songs; The Cotton Gin — History of Its 
Invention; The South (Some Addresses); Child 
Labor and Apprenticeship Training; Cotton Ware- 
housing; Cotton Picker; Electric Lighting; Cotton- 
seed Oil Mills; The Cotton Industry; Should Start 
Early in Life; The Money Value of Education and 
Training; Apprenticeship Papers; Cotton Certificates; 
Address at Inter-State Cottonseed Crushers' Associa- 
tion; Ohio Valley and Southern Industrial Tour; The 
South's Position in American Affairs; Road Building 
in a Southern State; The Cultivation, Picking, Baling, 
and Manufacturing of Cotton; American Cotton 
Manufacture and the Tariff (Charleston Address); 
Company K, 14th S. C. Volunteers, C. S. A.; Building 
and Loan Associations. 



ll LTHOUGH an author of industrial books 
L\ and a speaker on industrial subjects, it was 
X J^ chiefly through newspapers that Tompkins 
educated the South to appreciate its industrial needs. 
He possessed in a high degree the new^spaper instinct, 
and was strongly attracted by the allurements of 
journalism. He knew the power of printer's ink, 
and used it constantly. Opportunity now came to 
own it, and was seized by him with clear vision and 
steadfast purpose. 

The story of his entrance into journalism is told 
by Tompkins with characteristic simplicity and 
modesty. He says: 

"With a desire to have a better daily paper in 
Charlotte some gentlemen associated themselves 
together to make a company with capital enough to 
put out a good paper, as they thought. Some of 
these gentlemen were Col. Wm. Johnson, Major 
Clement Dowd, Col. Ham Jones, and others. They 
raised $6,000 to buy out the Chronicle and put it in 
shape. They invited me to take some stock, and I 
took $500 worth of stock with them. They then 
asked me to become a director; but I declined, on 
the ground that I was not enough in Charlotte and 
was too bus3\ 

"After operating two years the company had lost 



half of its capital stock and was in debt for $3,000. 
Then the stockholders met to consider what could 
be done. A committee came to me and asked me to 
take charge of the paper as its business manager. I 
told them I could not think of doing this; but they 
persisted, and asked on what conditions I would 
take charge. I proposed that if they would get 
up all the stock, I would buy it all, and upon that 
condition alone would I undertake to run the paper. 
They got up the stock according to my proposition, 
and I bought the paper. 

"One of the chief difficulties was the mechanical 
end. The machinery was inadequate, and what 
there was of it would not work well. I went to work to 
put the machinery in order, so that they could be sure 
of getting the paper out on time every morning. I 
proceeded myself to take out the two-horse gas engine 
and put in a four-horse gas engine. I rearranged and 
overhauled all the machinery; and the paper im- 
mediately went smoother and better. Everybody 
worked with better spirit, knowing that this work 
would bring out a paper each morning on time. 
After getting the machinery in good order, the paper 
jogged along in very good shape." 

But "jogging along" was not the speed nor the 
gait for Tompkins. He quickly recognized the neces- 
sity for a partner. It was impossible for him to man- 
age and edit the paper while performing at the same 
time his work as engineer, mill builder, and manufac- 
turer of mill machinery. The paper needed an editor 
and general manager, a man of ability, character, and 
newspaper experience, who would devote himself 
entirely to its management. The ideal man was at 
hand, living in a small country village and issuing 
one of the best, if not the best, among the weekly 


newspapers in North Carolina — Joseph P. Caldwell 
— editor and owner of the States ville Landmark. 
Tompkins had seen Caldwell, and valued him at his 
true worth. He now invited him to Charlotte to 
become joint owner and managing editor of the Ob- 
server. His purpose in selecting Caldwell reveals his 
purpose in developing the paper. "In securing 
Mr. Caldwell," he says in his memoirs, "to become 
my partner in the Observer, I was governed by various 
motives. In my business dealings with him in 
Statesville and in my personal acquaintance with 
him, he had seemed to be a man of strong character 
and clear judgment and high purpose, a man of 
broad, liberal views, who was looking hopefully to the 
future of the South. The one thing that I wanted 
the paper for was to preach the doctrines of industrial 
development. There was need for the South to get 
away from one single crop as its only source of income. 
I felt that I had seen enough, while I was working 
in the North and during the year's work I had done 
in Europe, to make me know that we had to diversify 
our pursuits in the South, not only in raising crops, 
but in all industrial ways, before we could get from 
under the depression which existed. Mr. Caldwell 
and I talked over these matters and agreed in views 
as to the proper course for the paper to pursue in the 
accomplishment of that result. He was a most 
able writer; and with definite plans and views before 
him he set them well before the public. There was a 
sort of tacit understanding that I would look after 
industrial matters and he would look out for the 
political interests of the paper. Of course we were 
both interested in both questions, but each was well 
suited to look after the interest that was in a way 
assigned to him. The partnership was always an 


easy fitting arrangement. I became the majority 
stockholder after awhile by the purchase of some of 
his stock at his request. There was never a time 
throughout the partnership of about twenty years 
that we had the slightest difference that made a jar 
of any kind. 

"Neither of us, I think, ever thought about the 
money that might be made out of the Observer, and 
neither pursued any course or policy because of the 
money involved. The paper stood for the welfare 
of the whole people. It was inaugurated at a time 
when there was need for reform. The South's ideas 
had been so controlled by the slave-holding oligarchy 
that many economic questions had to be changed 
before the welfare of the country could be best pro- 
moted. Yet these changes had to be carefully ex- 
pressed and worked out to keep from offending the 
delicate sensibilities of a fine race of people, who had 
been defeated in war, whose property had been de- 
stroyed, who afterward had been oppressed by the 
conquerors with every sort of harassment that was 
calculated to annoy, irritate, and depress their feelings 
and stifle their energies." 

There was never a partnership more felicitous, 
harmonious, or efficient than the partnership of 
Tompkins and Caldwell, in the ownership, editorship, 
and management of the Charlotte Observer. "We 
never tried to come into exact accord on all sub- 
jects," said Tompkins, "but Caldwell was a man of 
such extraordinary good judgment and ability that 
I always felt that a question discussed and left in 
his hands was left in its very best shape." After 
Caldwell's death the following tribute was paid 
him by Tompkins in the columns of the news- 
paper. It is a fine picture of Caldwell; and, look- 


ing beneath the surface, it is a perfect picture of 


"He should not be spoken of as the best editor in 
North Carolina, nor of the South. He was an editor 
who would have done great things in any country. 

"In the reconstruction of the fallen fortunes of 
his state he was among the first to discuss the value 
of industrial activities for revising the people's wel- 
fare. In politics he did more than any other to save 
Republicanism in his native state from Carpet- 
baggism, and Democracy from Communistic Popu- 

"He equally knew and supported the white race 
and the colored race, each with its proper rights 
and privileges. He enjoyed the highest confidence 
of both races. 

"In his writings he so balanced the forces of political 
movements as always to help get the best resultant 
force for the State's and the Nation's welfare. Per- 
haps better than all he balanced Northern and South- 
ern sentiment to the best interest of the whole coun- 
try. His balancing of forces was never a compro- 
mise; it was the right way." 

Working harmoniously together for twenty years, 
Tompkins and Caldwell made the Charlotte Observer 
one of the leading Southern newspapers, conspicuous 
for brilliant, fearless, and powerful editorials, for 
constant advocacy of industrial development, and 
for impartial publication of news. The keynote 
of the paper's policy was pitched by Tompkins in 
the following announcement: 

"The Observer has always been and will continue 
to be independent Democratic. 


"It will not undertake radical support or opposi- 
tion of causes with which Democracy has no con- 

"It will support moral, intellectual, and educational 

"It gives special attention to the matter of collect- 
ing and publishing industrial news." 

The policy of political independence was carried 
out by Caldwell in the editorial columns and sus- 
tained by Tompkins in business management and 
financial backing. Under the guidance of two such 
leaders the paper could not be a political organ nor a 
partisan sheet. It cut loose from party shackles, 
and refused to use prevailing methods of partisan 
warfare. Its columns were courteous and fair to 
political opponents, publishing accurate and full 
reports of Republican meetings, speeches, and plat- 
forms. It would not garble, distort, nor suppress 
political news, nor misrepresent in any way the utter- 
ances of its political opponents. It was brave, 
honest, and fair. It relied upon argument and reason 
rather than prejudice and deception to convince the 
public mind. It was full of faith in the people. It 
believed that the best way to lead the people is to 
keep them informed. 

"It is the purpose of the Observer ^^^ said its an- 
nouncement, "to publish all the news and intelligent 
comment on same. 

"It has always been and will continue to be fair 
in all its interpretation of the news. 

"Comprehensively speaking, the purpose is to 
publish a Neivs paper and give the news so fully 
that each reader may feel that if he has glanced over 
the Observer he is well posted about the events of 
the day over the whole world." 


The supreme test of the Observer's independent 
journaHsm came in the national political campaign 
over *'free silver." Unhesitating and unflinching, 
it stood for sound money. It supported Cleveland 
in his three campaigns with zeal, energy, and ability. 
It believed in the principles for which he stood, ad- 
mired his honesty and independence, and loved him 
for the enemies he had made. It hoped and labored 
for the regeneration of the national Democracy under 
the guidance of Cleveland. It distrusted the un- 
natural and dangerous coalition of Southern conser- 
vatism with Western radicalism. 

When the national Democratic Party, yielding 
to the clamor and threats of Populism, endorsed 
free silver and fiat money, the Observer repudiated 
the platform and bolted the ticket. It was over- 
whelmed with a flood of ignorance, prejudice, and 
misrepresentation; but it survived the storm, and 
was justified in the final triumph of its principles — 
in the maintenance of public credit, the restoration 
of business confidence, the revival of business, the 
increased production of gold, and the arrival of the 
long-delayed era of abounding prosperity. 

But the chief work and the chief purpose of the 
Observer was the industrial development of the South. 
In the mind of Tompkins the paper existed as an 
instrument for this purpose. To him the most im- 
portant of all news in the growing, expanding, and 
developing South was industrial news. His ideas 
on the subject were proclaimed so constantly that he 
was regarded almost as a crank. "Many a time," 
said the leading Observer reporter, "Red Buck," 
H. E. C. Bryant, "have Mr. Caldwell and myself 
joked about Mr. Tompkins' desire to fill the Observer 
with * industrial news' and cut out all sensations. 


*Why don't you put cotton mill news on the front 
page, top of column, and lynchings inside the paper?' 
Mr. Tompkins used to ask, when he would come in 
from some engineering task. Mr. Tompkins thought 
of the South and its industrial development all the 
time. Nothing else interested him for years. " 

"Write constructive news," was the motto of 
Tompkins for the Observer reporters. "Very few 
newspaper reporters," said he, "understand what is 
news. If a train going North with thirty loaded cars 
kills a tramp ten miles out of Charlotte, the reporters 
flock there, get the name of the tramp, if possible, 
find out what sort of clothes he wore, what was in 
his pockets, how he looked, etc. — come back to town 
and write it up in one or more columns. They 
completely missed the news. They gave a gruesome 
story that should not be given to the pubhc at all, 
or, if at all, very briefly. The real news was what 
the thirty cars were loaded with and why they were 
going North. 

"If a man starts up a stock farm or a vegetable 
farm, and runs it different or better in a locality 
where there is not much of this sort of industry, or 
starts a new enterprise to put people to work, that 
is real news. Most papers fear to write it up, how- 
ever, because it may give the man or his enterprise 
some free advertising." 

Two years after the organization of the Observer by 
Tompkins and Caldwell its columns contained the 
following article written by Tompkins: 

"the 'daily observer' and its policy" 

"The ante-bellum newspaper of the South was 
essentially a poHtical institution. Its patrons were 


chiefly planters and slave owners. The chief interest 
it could have for its patrons was in telling well and 
fully how politics were going and in exhibiting the 
doings of statesmen and future statesmen. Every 
interest in the South was entangled with the institu- 
tion of slavery. Its maintenance depended solely 
upon the work of Southern statesmen at Washington, 
and in the various State capitals. 

** Whoever subscribed for a paper was moved by 
his interest in government affairs and in the people 
who conducted them. There was no way in which 
a cotton planter could make money by taking a 
newspaper. But by keeping well posted he could 
help send the best men to the Legislature and to 
Congress to help maintain the institution of slavery 
in which his material interests were involved. 

"Newspaper men of the South are not yet freed 
from this heritage of habit of conducting a newspaper 
for politics only. Newspaper patronage in the South 
is also more or less constrained by this same inherited 
idea that a newspaper is a luxury — a sort of political 
luxury. But politics is no longer the one subject 
of public interest to Southern people. It is exceed- 
ingly important for the benefit of the papers and also 
for the benefit of the people that this fact should be 
appreciated and that it should have its influence in 
the make-up of the newspapers. Southern people 
are becoming more and more interested in manu- 
factures — in diversified manufactures. One man is 
interested in lumber, another in cotton oil, another in 
cotton spinning, another in mining iron ore, another 
in gold mining, and so on through a long list. A 
large number, of course, are interested in farming, 
and especially in the production of fruits and early 


"A newspaper which gives reasonable space and 
attention to these various subjects is in no sense a 
luxury. Its readers who are in business should find 
its subscription price a most excellent investment. 
The six, eight, or ten dollars paid annually for such a 
paper should make itself over many times in a year, 
provided, of course, the reader is intelligent enough 
to avail himself of the benefits of special information 
on the subjects upon which news and general informa- 
tion is gathered. 

"In one Southern paper of good repute the 
published matter in one week, exclusive of the 
regular markets and advertisements, was as fol- 

Crimes, casualties, and political news . 94 per cent. 

Industrial 2 

Farming 4 

Literature and art 



"Yet it doesn't seem to have occurred either to the 
management or the patrons of that paper but that 
it is a powerful good paper. 

"Politics is the old and accustomed diet to its 
readers and the paper is organized to produce this 
diet. It would probably find it very awkward to be 
required to change it much. If three men meet 
together to make a deal about ward representation 
in an approaching county political convention, it 
makes first-rate material in such a paper for a one 
quarter to one half column editorial, while a conven- 
tion of business men or manufacturers may meet and 
be disposed of in a few lines, somewhere in the inside 
of the paper. 


"Under its present management the Daily Observer 
has made a material change in these matters. It 
gives special attention to the matter of collecting 
and publishing industrial news. Some of its expe- 
riences in revealing to its old patrons the money value 
of a good paper are unique. 

"When the paper was purchased by its present 
owners, its subscription price was $5.00 per year, 
payable about as the subscriber pleased. The first 
move w^as to change the price to $6.00 per year, and 
there was a loss of some subscribers on account of 
this change. But most of the subscribers stayed 
with the paper at the new price, probably as much as 
anything else in a spirit of approval of any effort 
to make a good paper in Charlotte. 

"For the past two years the subject matter of the 
paper has been well diversified and careful attention 
has been given to industrial subjects. A competent 
man has been put on the road to do special work, 
most of which relates to education or developing 
manufactures. The expenses of producing this sort 
of paper naturally increased very materially, so that 
on the first of January last the subscription price 
was again changed — this time from $6.00 to $8.00 
per year. 

" This change caused some considerable dissatisfac- 
tion, and quite a number of orders were received to 
discontinue the paper. Every one of these orders to 
stop the paper indicated in one way or another 
that the old habit still survived of looking upon a 
newspaper as simply a sort of luxury to be read to 
pass away idle time. A job printer wrote, *Please 
stop my paper. I like it but do not feel that I can 
afford to pay $8.00 per year simply to gratify my 
desire to read your paper.' 


"This letter was answered about as follows: 

"*The paper will be stopped as you direct. We 
beg, however, to call your attention to the fact that 
our paper ought to do much more than furnish reading 
matter for your evenings. For the last two years 
it has contained early information of the establish- 
ment of many industrial works. Amongst others the 
organization of several in your town was first made 
public in our paper. You have probably got some 
of the job printing work from some of these concerns 
by knowing who to see about it. You got this in- 
formation out of our paper.'" 

Under this policy the Observer became indispens- 
able to industrial workers, managers, and investors 
throughout the Carolina Piedmont. An afternoon 
edition was issued, known as the Charlotte Evening 
Chronicle; and the Observer Company became also 
controlling owners of the Greenville, S. C, News. 
Through these papers Tompkins daily heralded far 
and wide the gospel of industrialism. His texts 
were manufactures, diversified agriculture, stock 
and dairy farming, fruits, truck farms, improved 
roads, industrial education, building and loan associa- 
tions, thrift, enterprise, self-reliance, and economy. 
He knew that the Old South was dead and that the 
New South must be, first of all, a new industrial 
South. With this theme he filled the Observer and 
his other papers. He preached it with the faith, 
the zeal, and the power of a genuine missionary. He 
steadily converted everybody in touch with him, 
and organized into a band of industrial workers for 
the building of the New South the entire force of 
his three newspapers — editors, reporters, canvassers, 
and correspondents. 

The following letter of instruction to his newspaper 



employees shows his methods, his tact, and his skill in 
accomplishing this result: 

for writers and canvassers of the observer 

"The newspapers of the Observer Company are 
in our opinion unsurpassed for general news and for 
editorial writing. The deficiency of almost all South- 
ern papers is that they contain little else except poli- 
tics and general news. Formerly, these were the 
only matters of interest in the South. In late years, 
both manufactures and commerce have revived and 
the interest in these is equal to, if not superior to, 
the interest in politics and general news. Therefore, 
it is very important that the gatherers of news and 
writers should publish items relating to this industrial 
development and commercial revival. A large num- 
ber of the readers of the Observer papers take the 
keenest interest in learning that a bridge is to be built, 
and it is very desirable that the details be published; 
who the Commissioners are that will let the bridge 
out, whether the contract has already been let, 
whether stone-work will be required, etc. 

"Notes of a new factory are interesting, and it is 
very important to give the names of the projectors 
and their addresses. 

"If a railroad is extended into a new territory 
where apples abound, every grocer is interested to 
know the facts. The names of those who are in 
position to furnish apples in the new territory, to- 
gether with their names, is very important. 

"In fact, everything out of which people could 
make money or that would lead to the extension of 
trade is the best of good news, and the more of this 


that is put in the paper the more the paper will be 
read, the easier it will be sold, and the better the argu- 
ment that can be made for its sale. We want to 
get to where we can assure every subscriber that if he 
will watch the news and advertising columns he will 
be sure to get information out of which he can make 
a hundred dollars a year as a minimum and possibly 
a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars. In 
other words, we want to make the paper valuable as 
a money-making proposition for every subscriber, 
provided he wants to make money. My own 
opinion is that our papers are that kind already, but 
they can be still further improved. 

"The Charlotte Observer is by long odds the cheap- 
est paper in the State for the man to buy. The 
reason is that it is an investment which makes a 
return. In addition to that it gives more news, 
better editorials, and more literature than any other 
paper in the State. The former good work of the 
paper in the various lines will not be diminished in 
the least, but there is room to improve the industrial 
news, both as to the completeness of the items and 
as to the number of them. What is wanted is a 
statement of the facts, the names and addresses 
of those connected with an enterprise, what materials 
are yet to be bought, and who should be written to 
about them. It is not desirable to string out indus- 
trial items; padding them sometimes fills the paper to 
no purpose." 

Tompkins was not merely a preacher. As a worker 
he set the example for workers in every department 
of his papers. His editorials and various contribu- 
tions in the Charlotte Observer on industrial subjects 
attracted national attention, and were copied by 
leading industrial and commercial journals. His 


reports of industrial expositions and new industrial 
enterprises were especially popular and attractive. 
Besides publishing his writings the newspapers 
sought him out for interviews and gave him oppor- 
tunities, which he never neglected, for preaching 
industrial sermons and exploiting the industrial 
development of the New South. In the North he 
always talked about the South, while his sermons at 
home related to Northern thrift, enterprise, and prog- 

Whenever he travelled, and wherever he stopped, 
notebook and pencil were busy, jotting down obser- 
vations, facts, ideas to be published later. He made 
use of all possible material that could be used either 
to point the moral or adorn the tale of industrialism. 
New inventions, new enterprises, new fashions, new 
books, new people, railroad wrecks, flying machines, 
drummers' yams, Texas cowboy escapades, moon- 
shine liquor, millionaire banquets, the elevator 
boy, the Chinese Ambassador, abbreviated skirts 
and fancy hosiery, anything, everything, and every- 
body — all the world — was grist in the voracious Tomp- 
kins mill of industrialism. He ground it out and 
gave it to Piedmont Carolina for its daily meal. 

"I have never known a newspaper man," said the 
editor of the Manufacturers^ Record, "with so keen 
a nose for news — not the news of sensationalism or 
gossip or small politicians — but the news which 
makes for human advancement. He can get a 
better newspaper story out of the improvements of 
skme worn-out farm, out of the chance remark 
of some fellow traveller about an invention or a new 
piece of machinery or a newly discovered business 
opportunity, than the average man can get out of the 
sensational events which fill so large a place in the 


daily papers of the land. A chance remark of some 
seemingly unimportant fact will often catch his in- 
terest, and the ever-ready notebook and pencil 
are at hand to jot it down for future investigation." 

The helpless invalidism of Caldwell in 1907 threw 
upon Tompkins the sole control and management 
of the Observer Company's publications. He de- 
voted himself to the task with energy, enthusiasm, 
and power. His capacity for taking pains, his ex- 
ecutive ability, his conservative, judicial tempera- 
ment, his broadness of view, his knowledge of and 
sympathy with manual workers were given to the 
development of journalism as fully and zealously as 
they had been given to the development of manu- 
factures. His head, his heart, and his hand were 
felt in all departments of his papers. At home or 
abroad, personally or by mail and wire, his ideas were 
transmitted daily to editors, reporters, and business 
managers. Every department of his papers re- 
ceived his watchful attention. Memoranda, hints, 
and instructions to managers and workers in various 
departments of his papers were, as a rule, preserved 
by him and filed in duplicate. They fill many large 
volumes and testify not only to his unusual capacity 
for work and remarkable versatility of talent, but 
also to fine literary ability and high ideals. 

A few samples of his notes, memoranda, editorials, 
and other newspaper contributions, may give a hint 
of the variety, the extent, and the power of his talents 
and abilities as a newspaper manager. 

To one of his editors, who made excuses for Yellow 
Journalism : 

"I have read with some degree of surprise your 
editorial of Saturday on the subject of Yellow Joumal- 



ism. I can't agree with you that the decent pubhc 
demands such news, at least not the subscribing 
pubhc. The truth of the matter is it ruins the paper 
for many a family, and gives concern to many a 
parent far beyond any outside value to anybody. 
It makes easy news to fill up a paper with, but the 
worst kind of news for the subscriber and his family. 
Many a subscriber feels that having paid for the 
paper, he and his family are deprived of the value 
of it by yellow journalism. The claim of new^spaper 
people that it is necessary to pubhsh indecent news 
doesn't seem to be borne out by the facts. Talk 
to any of those people w^ho pay for the paper by 
the year, and I have not heard one of them say a word 
in justification of any indecent new^s, or 'yellow 
journalism' as you call it. Most of those who love 
to read sensational stuff borrow the paper to read it. 
They don't even buy the one paper at one cent. 

"The subject is a big and important one, and I 
hope you will investigate further and pursue it fur- 

To another editor, who had proven teachable: 
"I want to compliment you on your issue of April 
12th. The first page is clean, constructive, and con- 
ducive to human welfare. Your editorials in the 
same issue are on admirable subjects and well written. 
I congratulate you on the progress of your paper in 
the way of subordinating calamity news and noisy or 
indecent news to the better class of news which you 
are now handling." """' 

To the same: "Too much politics": 
"I know that the politics of your state are strenu- 
ous, but is not your paper getting to be too strenuous 


upon the subject of politics of your state? Too 
much poHtics will ruin any paper ultimately in my 

To J. P. Caldwell, opposing a reduction in the 
price of the Charlotte Observer : 

"The phantom of a cheap paper at a cheap price 
has been pursued frequently in this State. Nobody 
so far has had will power to cease the fruitless chase 
except the Charlotte Observer. We have got along 
fairly well in this isolated policy, and I am in favor 
of maintaining it. I would advocate emphasizing 
it still further by producing a seven-day paper at an 
increased price, if it were a matter of following my 
opinion alone. The question we are discussing is 
really the question upon which people succeed or fail. 
It is a question of good work at good prices, or cheap 
work at cheap prices."* 

To the editor of the Charlotte Observer, on editorial 
policy : 

"We must keep the Observer in position for it to 
speak when it is necessary — To speak for vested 
interest, when vested interest is right — to speak 
against vested interest, when vested interest is 
wrong. This is the very best protection we could 
give to vested interest. Any other policy would be 
to prostitute the voice of the paper until it could do 
nobody harm or good. 

"A newspaper should never make itself a busy- 
body, hunting up mare's nests to expose. A news- 
paper should take pains to be neighborly with all 
its neighbors, and that means it must not interfere 
nor prod too much with private affairs. 

•His advice prevailed. The Observer was issued daily, the first "Daily" in North 


"A newspaper ought to be friendly to the welfare 
of children in mills, yet it must be able to recognize 
the necessities of the cotton manufacturers' interest 
also. It must so differentiate these two interests 
that it can distinguish between them. It cannot 
blindly take the side of emotional opposition to 
child labor, neither can it take the side of the mill 
interest, but it must of necessity try to adjust these 
two. It must naturally take the position of support- 
ing one side in many things and then supporting 
the other side in many things. It must never be 
compelled to condemn or approve. It must reserve 
the right either to condemn or to approve, according 
to the merits of the case." 

To one of his editors, who was long on editorial 
and short on news: 

" The public is more important than the editor and 
the publisher put together, and this should always 
be recognized. The public pays for the paper, and 
what it wants to buy is news rather than much 

To a careless business manager: 

"The report inclosed does not show the progress 
that you are making, or any of the results that are 
being obtained on the paper. I have previously 
suggested that you finish this report and make it 
show what we want to know each week. I carefully 
prepared a statement of this sort and sent it to you 
some time ago. A report which does not show much 
of anything is no better than no report at all. You 
don't even add up your column of figures. One of 
the most important items in any business is not on 
the report at all, to wit, your net balance in the bank. 


I return this report to be made out fully; and I do 
this more in the interest of having you attain to a 
definite purpose in making these reports, so that 
you then can see to what end you have got to work 
in the future." 

To the Observer's Washington correspondent — a 
compliment : 

" I find myself looking for your items of news from 
Washington, and I simply want to write this line 
of compliment for your method of procedure. I am 
a great believer in the value of naked news, of telling 
it quickly, and telling it in one piece, and telling it 
as soon after it happens as possible, even if it is only 
one line." 

To the same — a sample suggestion: 

"Could you get up a little story for the Observer, 
very briefly stating what is the contention between 
Austria and Servia.^ In what way is Russia in- 
terested .^^ and in what way is Germany interested.'^" 

To a business manager — on newspaper contests: 
"I have just received your audits to June 30th. 
This audit seems to verify the position I have always 
held, that there is nothing in contests in the newspaper 
business. I am not criticising but commenting. 
It is the old, old story that the way to get along in 
the world is for the shoemaker to stick to his last. 
I have observed that in all contests, special editions, 
and otherwise, some peripatetic juggler gets off with 
the money and the paper holds the bag. 

"The successes of life are mostly made by a mo- 
notonous grind and by laying out a task to accomplish 
and being sure of accomplishing it. Pyrotechnical 


efforts to clean up a debt all at once rarely ever work 
— if ever." 

To one of his editors — "The first business of a news- 

"The first business of a newspaper is to stay in 
the newspaper business. This means: 

(1) It shall not be a political organ. 

(2) It shall not be persuaded into various specula- 
tive schemes, such as premium contests, voting 
contests, or anything whatever outside of the news- 
paper business. 

(3) It is not a literary proposition, nor a feature 
proposition, nor any kind of a stunt proposition. 
Its business should be strictly to get news together 
and to publish it for the benefit of the people." 

To one of his editors — on "Box-Car Headlines": 
"Abundant space taken with box-car headlines 
over nothing of consequence may be used for printing 
the actual news, and in about the quantities that 
people want to read." 

To one of his editors — on vituperative articles: 
"In the paper of July 5th is a reprint of a story 
by Watterson, headed 'Wilson, Satan, Bryan, and 
Snake,' or something to that effect. In the spirit 
of conference I want to suggest that I do not think 
it is a good thing for a paper to print wildly wTitten 
and vituperative articles — not even to reprint them. 
The fate of both orators and writers of ultra-cynical 
and ultra-sarcastic language has not generally been a 
wholly agreeable one. It is interesting to read one 
article in ultra-sarcastic or ultra-abusive vein, but 
it does not tend to build up interest. 


"Mr. Caldwell and I for nearly twenty years pur- 
sued a plan of publishing news that would help some- 
body, and in no case that would damage or injure 
anybody. We made a fine success in carrying out 
these principles and ideas." 

To one of his editors— "The subscription list vs. 
letters of approval: 

"Some editors lay great stress on an occasional 
letter of approval. The truth of the matter is that 
letters of approval don't cut much figure in the run- 
ning of a newspaper. Most people don't write 
any letters at all of approval or disapproval; and 
therefore you can't get a gauge on what the public 
think by letters of approval or disapproval. It is 
the subscription list which marks the favor or dis- 
favor of the public. Nothing could be more^ inter- 
esting than the interpretation of a newspaper's sub- 
scription list. The subscription list is the cold- 
blooded scales, the rise and fall of which marks the 
real measure of approval or disapproval of the paper. 

To a managing editor— " Truthfulness and Clean- 

liness" i 

"The Associated Advertising Clubs of America in 
convention at Dallas, Texas, have emphasized the 
necessity of truthfulness of statements m advertising 
matter. It might also be said that in the reading 
columns cleanliness is as important as truthfulness 
in the advertising columns." 

To the same — on "Lambasting": 

"Many newspaper writers fall into the error of sup- 
posing that lambasting people is forceful writing. 
The only force of such writing is a draft upon the 


paper's resources and standing. Without the back- 
ing and protection of the paper such writing would 
fall flat and excite the contempt of the community 
and sometimes bring chastisement upon the writer." 

To the editor of the Observer — "Newspaper influ- 
ence and duty": 

"I have read in the morning paper with great 
interest some reflections by Mr. William Jennings 
Bryan on the subject of loss of influence of news- 
papers. He attributes the loss to the fact that papers 
devote so much space to crime and domestic infelicity. 
This is precisely what I have said repeatedly in our 

"The editor of the New York Evening Post, com- 
menting on Mr. Bryan's observation, says that if 
people have the kind of politicians and priests they 
deserve, they also have the kind of newspaper they 
deserve. I don't understand just what Mr. Ogden 
is driving at, but I think the newspaper ought to be 
of the right kind, regardless of priests and politicians, 
and rather help the people to make the right kind 
of priests and politicians." 

Editorial in Charlotte Observer — "Brevity": 

"An essential element of good writing is brevity. 

"The Bible narrative of the Creation uses about 
800 words. 

"The narrative of the Resurrection about 300 

"The narrative of the Prodigal Son about 500 

"The Lord's Prayer 67 words. 

"The Ten Commandments about 300 words. 

"Lincoln's oration at Gettysburg 269 words." 


Editorial paragraph— " The too busy man": 

"The lazy man is not the only one who stands in 

the way of his own progress. The too busy man is 

equally in his own way. Who is there who has not 

seen men so very busy that they hindered business." 

Editorial paragraph — "Sentiment": 

"The sentiments of life are stronger than the in- 
terests. Whoever does something that is attuned to 
human sentiment attains fame. Burns and Poe 
are of the elect. Byron living was not altogether 
nice, but he attuned his heart to human sentiment, 
and the world has forgiven him his faults in admira- 
tion of the sweetness of his song." 

Editorial paragraph — "Ships." 

"We are building a ship canal on one side of the 
Union at a cost of four hundred million dollars. We 
are discussing a railroad in Alaska at a cost of thirty- 
five milHon dollars. Surely when these are done we 
ought to be able to get about the world. ^Vhat we 
now seem to want most is ships to take our agricul- 
tural and manufactured products to the markets of 
the world." 

Editorial, Charlotte 065eri?er—" Self-government" : 
"The government of the United States has been 
a great success. It is a government suited to the 
character of the original population. It is not a 
government suitable for Mexico or for China. Most 
of the troubles we have had with the government of 
the United States have come from the mistaken 
theories of the Fifteenth Amendment, and the mis- 
taken theory of Mr. Jefferson that all men were 
born equal. 


"All men of the general character of the Puritan 
and Cavalier are more or less equal and are capable 
of self-government. But men of the character of 
the average Mexican and Chinese are not capable 
of self-government. It looks as if we would have to 
modify our theories of self-government and the uni- 
versal equality of men." 

Editorial, Charlotte Observer— " The World Tri- 
bunal and Mexico": 

" There is a world tribunal which must be reckoned 
with in every important question which comes up 
within one of the nations, or between the nations of 
the world. 

"In the United States the institution of slavery 
was abolished by this tribunal. In Egypt modern 
standards of law and order, commercial and otherwise, 
were established by the same tribunal. Again in 
Cuba a condition incompatible with modern civiliza- 
tion was terminated by the same influence. Civiliza- 
tion is always patient. It is slow to take hold of a 
festering sore until every local human endeavor 
has been allowed to exhaust itself. 

"The United States has been long-suffering in her 
patience with Mexico. We were long-suffering with 
Cuba, but the time came when the self-respect of 
the Nation and the opinions of mankind demanded 
that we go down and put an end to an intolerable 
condition. We approved President Wilson's course 
of exhausting every possible peaceful means of having 
order restored in Mexico; and we further approved 
his patience and good judgment in letting them bring 
their own issues to a conclusion, if they can possibly 
do so. But if the President's policy fails to bring 
about law and order, the United States must do it, 


as they did it in Cuba, as England did it in Egypt, 
as it must always be done with people who disregard 
law and order and have to be forced to do what is 

Among all the creations of Tompkins the Observer 
was his favorite. It was in a sense the voice of his 
work, the daily herald of the New South. His deep 
emotional nature enfolded it to his heart as the darling 
child of his brain. "I asked my brother one day," 
says !Mrs. Grace Tompkins Ennett, "why he did 
not sell the Observer, and get rid of its cares, responsi- 
bilities, and labor." "Sell the Observer!'' said he, 
"Do you think your mother would sell you!" 

"The Charlotte Observer,'' said Howard A. Banks, 
"was IVIr. Tompkins' pet; it was his sweetheart 
and he was its lover. It was the second real romance 
of his career." 

The Observer was the thousand-tongued messenger 
of Tompkins to the industrial South. It helped 
him as a builder, organizer, and industrial missionary. 
His practical work in turn as builder and organizer 
gave special meaning to the Observer's industrial 
sermons. "Of all Southern newspaper men," said 
Clark Howell, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, 
" the one whose practical work as an industrial leader 
has accomplished most is D. A. Tompkins of the 
Charlotte Observer," 



ON JUNE 18, 1898, an Act of Congress au- 
thorized the appointment of a non-partisan 
commission to collate information and con- 
sider and recommend legislation to meet the prob- 
lems presented by labor, agriculture, and capital. 

Tompkins was appointed a member of this Indus- 
trial Commission by President McKinley in recogni- 
tion of his eminent career as industrial worker, 
organizer, and promoter. He entered into the work 
of the Commission with zeal, energy, and patriotic 
purpose. The problems before it had interested him 
for years. As a student he had studied them, as a 
man of affairs he had handled them. The meetings 
of the Commission he attended with scrupulous 
fidelity, travelling with it over the country and post- 
poning to its work all private business. 

The report of the Commission* is published in 
nineteen bulky volumes. It covers a large portion of 
the vast field of political economy, dealing practically 
with all industrial problems then confronting the 
American people. The following titles will indicate 
the scop e of the work: 

*At the time of the final rep>ort, February 10, 1902, the Commission was composed as 

Mr. Albert Clarke, Chairman; Senator Boies Penrose; Senator Stephen R. Mallory; 
Senator John W. Daniel; Senator Thomas R. Bard; Representative John J. Gardner; 
Representative L. F. Livingston; Representative John C. Bell; Representative Theobold 
Otjen; Mr. William Lorimer; Mr. Andrew L. Harris; Mr. John M. Farquhar; Mr. Eugene 
D. Conger; Mr. Thomas W. Philips; Mr. Charles J. Harris; Mr. John L. Kennedy; Mr. 
Charles H. Litchman; Mr. D. A. Tompkins; E. Dana Durand, Secretary. 




Volume I. 
" III. 
" IV. 
" VI. 
" VII. 

" VIII. 


" XI. 

" XII. 

" XV. 
" XVI. 
" XVII. 

" XIX. 

Trusts and Industrial Combinations. 
Trust and Corporation Laws. 
Prison Labor. 
Labor Legislation. 
Distribution of Farm Products. 
Capital and Labor in Manufactures 
and General Business. 
Chicago Labor Disputes. 
Agriculture and Agricultural Labor. 
Agriculture and Taxation. 
Capital and Labor in the Mining 

Immigration and Education. 
Foreign Labor Legislation. 
Labor Organizations, Labor Disputes, 
and Arbitration. Railway Labor. 
Industrial Combinations in Europe. 
Final Report of the Industrial Com- 

The recommendations of the Commission concern- 
ing needed legislation were made after the taking of 
much testimony, the hearing of experts and business 
men, and due conference and discussion among 
themselves. The wisdom of their recommendations 
is recognized by their adoption to a large extent and 
their enactment into public laws by subsequent 

For improvement of agriculture and protection of 
the public health the chief recommendations were: 
the extension and improvement of existing laws and 
governmental machinery for the inspection, regula- 
tion, and protection of animals and animal products, 
grains, fruits, and fruit trees; the establishment of a 



pure food section in the chemistry division of the 
Department of Agriculture, to prevent adulteration 
and imitation of foods; the better protection of 
domestic animals against disease; ample protection of 
the beet sugar industry; a policy of national road 
building, with extension of the rural postal service; a 
broad and generous national policy to promote 
forestry and establish forest preserves. 

For improvement in transportation the Commis- 
sion recommended supervision and control by the 
national Government, with private ownership. 

For correcting the evils of trusts and industrial 
combinations: publicity, clear-cut uniform laws 
rigidly enforced, Federal taxation and supervision. 
These remedies failing, the Commission recom- 
mended a Federal Incorporation Law. 

For tariff reform, a permanent non-partisan expert 
commission to investigate and study tariff problems. 

For reclaiming arid lands, a policy of national 

For reform in taxation, among other recom- 
mendations, was the following: "That the States 
abandon the general property tax and raise their 
revenues by taxes upon corporations, inheritances, 
and incomes, supplemented w^hen necessary by in- 
direct taxation; that local revenues be raised by 
taxes on real estate and personalty under the general 
property -tax system as at present." 

To this recommendation Tompkins and C. J. 
Harris, both members of the Commission from 
North Carolina, made the following dissent: "We 
regard recommendation No. 1 as too new and not 
sufficiently tried in practice for unqualified recom- 
mendation under all conditions. 

"We dissent from any proposition to tax, as ia- 


come, book profits of individuals, firms, or corpora- 
tions, except such as may be retired from business, 
divided or declared as dividends, for the following 
reasons : 

"The determination of undivided profits, besides 
being difficult, would submit competitive businesses 
to injurious exhibits of details, would unduly con- 
strain business men to report, in periods of depression, 
more profits than made in order to sustain credit, 
would often tax apparent profits which later might 
have shrunk to nothing; and for other reasons." 

For control of immigration the Commission 
recommended various regulations, including "Re- 
newal and continuance of the Chinese exclusion 
laws, with administrative amendments to render 
these laws less liable to evasion." Tompkins 
objected strongly to special restrictions, or exclusion, 
aimed at particular races or nations, and dissented 
from the above recommendation as follows: "For 
the protection of American civilization and American 
labor it seems to me to be desirable to make the 
general immigration laws restrictive of all immigra- 
tion that would seriously threaten to injure these. 

"Such general laws, properly formulated, would 
exclude all undesirable Chinese, as well as the un- 
desirable of all other nations, without the necessity of 
discrimination against China or any other country as / 
a nation." 

The most difficult problems before the Commission 
were those relating to labor. The Commission, at 
least a majority, aimed to secure uniformity of 
labor throughout the United States; laws relating 
to hours of work, wages, labor organizations, 
strikes, child labor, women, convicts, and other 
factors. The report of the Commission on this 


subject was a review of the evidence, with recom- 
mendations as to legislation. To this report were 
four dissenting opinions signed by five members of 
the Commission. The dissenting opinion of Tomp- 
kins, signed by himself and C. J. Harris, both from 
^ North Carolina, was as follows: "We believe that 
the foregoing review of evidence as it stands is, for 
general application, too much in the nature of a 
theoretic argument in favor of the unrestricted and 
uncontrolled organization of special classes of labor, 
and mainly relates to part of the labor engaged in 
manufacturing, transporting, mining, and some oc- 
cupations peculiar to large cities. 

"We apprehend that the theories, if attempted to 
be carried fully into practice, might lead to the 
development of powers in the hands of special 
combinations of labor which, by cooperation with 
the powers of special combinations of capital, could 
levy tribute upon the vast body of other labor and 
all consumers for the benefit of the capital and the 
labor so combined. Statutory laws in restraint of 
violence and of coercive acts against the rights and 
liberties of others should be maintained and enforced 
against those who are in organizations, as well as 
all other citizens alike. 

"Organizations of labor, when the members are 
intelligent and when controlled by good motives and 
good men, are very advantageous, and such organiza- 
tions will have little or no occasion to be in any degree 
controlled by restraining laws. 

"Other organizations, where the degree of in- 
telligence is not high, as in the case of many immi- 
grants not long in the country, and not in sympathy 
with the personal liberty provided by our institutions, 
where the motives are sometimes bad and the leaders 


sometimes not good or wise men, are positively in- 
jurious, and it seems essential that those who are 
members of such organizations should be amenable 
to wholesome laws. ^ 

"The most important factors influencing and 
constraining the betterment of the condition of 
working people we believe to be as follows: ;^ 

"(1) The provision of ample school facilities. y /s 

*'(2) Compulsory education. "^^ ' 

"(3) The maintenance under State laws of co- r^ 
operative savings institutions, under such control 
and restrictions as absolutely to insure their safety, 
and, so as to make it easy for members, through 
these institutions, to build homes and pay for them 
by instalments, similar to the cooperative banks of 

"(4) The establishment by the United States 
Government of postal savings banks. 

"(5) Liberal provision for the incorporation of 
labor organizations." 

Tompkins was opposed to Governmental regula- 
tion of labor, regarding it as unwise, unnecessary, 
meddlesome, and injurious both to labor and to 
capital. He was a disciple of Herbert Spencer, 
believing in the natural evolution of good results, 
unless hindered by artificial obstructions. This 
theory in harmony with his own temperament had 
been impressed on his mind by early reading of 
Spencer and confirmed by long experience as laborer, 
capitalist, employer, and manager of laborers. He 
was especially opposed to uniformity (or attempted 
uniformity) of labor regulations in a country as 
large as the United States, where variety of condi- 
tions and occupations and climate and race character- 
istics and varied stages of wealth, culture, and 


progress would necessarily produce corresponding 
variations in wages, hours, and conditions of labor. 
He did not believe that Texas and Massachusetts, 
South Carolina and Minnesota, Maine and Florida, 
could, or should have the same labor regulations. 
Such a miracle, if possible in the future, he considered 
impossible now. The attempt to work it he regarded 
as full of mischief, a meddlesome interference, and an 
unnecessary hindrance of natural forces, which 
were already working as rapidly and beneficently as 

As a cotton mill owner and manager Tompkins had 
built mill villages, had employed as mill workers 
poor white families who hitherto had lived in one- 
room cabins, scantily supplied with even the neces- 
saries of life, had paid them each month more money 
than they had formerly earned in a whole year, had 
built for them schools and churches, had supplied 
them with teachers and preachers, had encouraged 
and helped them to cultivate gardens and beautify 
their homes, had practised on them his favorite 
philanthropy of helping mankind by helping people 
to help themselves — and now to be invaded, 
attacked, and hindered in this work by professional 
and sentimental agitators and philanthropists was 
far from pleasing. He wrote and spoke freely on 
the subject before mill men, mill workers, phi- 
lanthropists and legislatures. The following extracts 
will illustrate his earnestness, sincerity, and deep 
conviction : 

"professional reformers" 

"Those who become newly interested in human 
betterment work rarely appreciate to what extent 


human betterment work has been going on before 
their interest. At first bhish it always looks as 
though monumental reforms should be and could be 
accomplished immediately. A little time and a 
little experience soon reveal the fact that human 
betterment is surrounded by hindrances and diffi- 
culties multifold. First of all, it is generally found 
that most of the things one would do immediately 
have all been tried by capable and talented people, 
and that most of the things one would wish to have 
done, have been, and are still, in process of doing, by 
natural means and in the calm, slow way which nature 
has provided for human improvement. 

"It transpires that too much reform at any one 
time means not evolution but revolution with per- 
plexing confusion for the human race. It transpires 
also that those things needing reform are largely 
ignored by humanity and left to nature's tender, slow 
ways. It is when a reform is well under way of ac- 
complishment that the professional reformer wants to 
take a hand. And whenever the professional re- 
former does begin to take a hand, the betterment 
movement gets a jolt that stops its growth until the 
forces of the professional reformer's sentiments and 
impatience are spent. 

"The people of the South have had a sort of satiety 
of reform since the Civil War. An experiment of 
reconstruction was tried upon them, and the experi- 
ment lasted about a quarter of a century. Our 
relations with the colored brother were sought to be 
wholly changed; and decent government was upset in 
the attempt to force theoretic ideas of what the 
relations ought to be. Meanwhile, the personal 
relations of the races remained the same. Natural 
means continued to hold their own in determining a 


question that nature alone stands sponsor for. 
Slavery was an unholy institution. It was all well 
and good for the laws to abolish slavery, but the 
personal and social relations of humanity cannot be 
legislated. Legislation undertaking to regulate per- 
sonal and social relations always will be fruitless. 
There was never a better subject of emotional senti- 
ment than the colored man. No human thing ever 
excited so much emotional sentiment as the colored 
man did when the craze was on about the colored 
man and his relations. The very color of his skin 
made him a subject of pity. His former condition of 
bondage excited emotions in his favor. None ever 
said to him that he must be self-reliant; none ever 
said to him that he must be thrifty and economical 
and industrious. The crusade was that the Southern 
white man must carry him on his shoulders and make 
him fulfil all the emotional expectations of those who 
were so zealous in the cause of his betterment. The 
condition of the colored man has been immensely 
ameliorated and improved, in spite of emotional 
influences which have hindered the progress of the 
work. Slavery being abolished, nothing stands in 
the way of the colored man any more than of the 
white man, and the colored citizen has been most 
improved by consultation with and cooperation with 
his ancient white neighbor. 

"Now comes the crusade about Child Labor. 
Most of the families now living in cotton mill villages 
in the South formerly lived on the farms. Cotton 
went as low as five cents a pound, which meant a very 
scant living and no education. As mills were built and 
drew these poor farmers from agricultural to industrial 
work it was recognized that in the cause of humanity, 
and for the best material interest of the mill, children 


should be provided with means of education. There 
is hardly a mill in the South that did not provide this 
means of education, and where the State did any- 
thing at all, the State's work was supplemented by 
school extension, paid for by the mill. The mills 
have contributed to the construction of churches, to 
the establishment of libraries, and the organization of 
other betterment work; and just about the time the 
progress of these various betterments begins to at- 
tract attention because of their altruistic character 
and their wonderful success, the professional re- 
former wants to take a hand, and is taking it with a 
vengeance. The professional reformers comprise 
many well-meaning, tender-hearted women, most of 
whom are living on incomes and have little knowl- 
edge of practical life. Also of men and women who 
are thirsty for notoriety. These hate a dull time, 
and wherever they go there is bound to be trouble. 
Then there is the grafter pure and simple, who can 
collect a bigger salary in the name of charity, pro- 
vided his accounts are left unchecked, than he can 
get for doing anything else where the measure of 
his work is reckoned and where his accounts are 

"Happily the real welfare of the children of the 
South is well assured. It is in practical hands. 
Movements for amelioration and betterment are so 
well established on practical lines that the emo- 
tionalists, though they may hinder a little, cannot 
disestablish the good practical work. 

**It is always a pleasure to think of some of the 
wise ways of Solomon. When the two women went 
to him, each claiming to be the mother of a child who 
was the subject of controversy, the old King ap- 
peared worried as to how to decide between them. 


but with foxy wisdom he proposed to cleave the 
child in twain and give each woman a half. Then he 
discovered who the real mother was by discovering 
which one would give up the child rather than have it 
slain. It is so with the children of this day. It 
would be better if every child could have an ideal 
apprenticeship and ideal education; but, in the 
absence of all that we want, there is many a mother 
that has to take a choice between two alternatives. 
I feel confident that any mother would choose a 
condition of wholesome work, even though it was not 
altogether the kind of work that she would like the 
child to do, as a preference over idleness, indulgence, 
and surroundings which are liable to turn vicious. 

"I repeat that betterment conditions are extremely 
difficult. I assert with the utmost confidence that, 
so far as Southern cotton mills are concerned, the 
average of the conditions is as good as can at present 
be attained. There are exceptions, but unhappily 
there are exceptions to all good things as an aver- 
age proposition. The betterment of humanity in 
Southern cotton mills is going on apace about as 
rapidly as the humanity is capable of digesting the 

"Not one word here uttered is against children. 
On the contrary, my every thought and every effort, 
when I come in contact with the subject, is in their 
favor. I am brought in frequent and in close con- 
tact with their present condition, and I knew their 
former condition well. The work of bringing about 
their betterment must be rational, and must fit their 
present condition. Unconditional exemption from 
work up to the age of 14, 15, or 16 would do untold 
injury. Even at ages below 14, besides going to 
school, they ought to be required to do a certain 


amount of work which is necessary to develop them 
into the best sort of men and women. 

"Much of human improvement must necessarily 
be brought about by the tendency of the human race 
itself to improve and go forward. The field of the 
work of betterment is always extending, and the 
number of workers in the field is likewise extending. 
The real workers are never heard much of. It is the 
agitator that looks out for a seat on the band wagon 
and the nearest place to the big drum, and it is nat- 
urally he or she that is most seen and most heard. 
Before the time of the band wagon and when there 
was nothing but conscientious work, the agitator 
and notoriety seeker were not in evidence and they 
will not be after the band wagon is aboHshed. When 
the band wagon shall have disappeared, the old 
workers will still be the workers, and the altruistic 
labors will be performed as of yore, and while the work 
of betterment will not be so much in the limelight 
as it is to-day, it will be none the less effective." 

Tompkins was chief owner and president of three 
large cotton mills, director of eight mills, and stock- 
holder in many more. His chief financial interest 
was in cotton manufactures, an interest that en- 
gaged his best thoughts and appealed to his philan- 
thropic nature. He saw in the cotton mill an 
opening for the South to a new career, an open door 
for capable, ambitious Southern lads. 

"The cotton mill," said he, "is the wide-open door 
through which any family, even those of the most 
ordinary natural endowments, may find a way from 
the farm to manufacturing pursuits, or other fields 
of skilled labor. Without the cotton factory the 
transition would be in many cases difficult. The 
cotton factory naturally retains many workers of 


small natural endowments, but it also retains many 
who are of the highest natural endowments. The 
cotton mill offers unlimited opportunity, and the 
opportunity offered is daily being availed of by those 
who are capable of utilizing it. I know men who 
have, inside a decade, utilized these opportunities 
to change their condition from one of pinching pov- 
erty to one of independence and affluence. 

"If ever this class of people needed special help 
it is not now. Their lives were led in hard lines when 
the institution of slavery was the controlling influ- 
ence in the South, and also in the period of reconstruc- 
tion that followed the Civil War, when all the white 
people of the South were lined in solid and serried 
ranks in an army committed to the defence and pres- 
ervation of Anglo-Saxon civilization. But it is a 
people who would probably have refused personal 
help, or any sumptuary patronage, even under those 
circumstances. Opportunity, good will, and favor- 
able environment are all they ever wanted and all that 
could ever have been of any avail to them. Oppor- 
tunity and good will and favorable environment 
they now have. The preservation of these is now 
the one thing of importance. With opportunity 
for regular work and with regular wages in cash, these 
people will do more for their own advancement than 
could ever be done by others for them. 

" The cotton mill operatives in the South are mak- 
ing about as rapid advance as any humanity in their 
present state of education and training are capable 
of making. The employing manufacturers and the 
home people cooperating with the new conditions 
are furnishing to them about all the intellectual and 
moral training they are capable of assimilating. 

"The employer and employee are in the main of 


the same blood, in many instances are of kin, each 
generally enjoys the confidence of the other, and each 
has full faith in the other. By this confidence and 
cooperation the best progress is being made. Prog- 
ress is being made step by step, and no step forward 
is generally undertaken until it has transpired that 
the people are prepared for it. 

Kindly and friendly interest is welcomed by em- 
ployed and employee alike, but both are exceedingly 
averse to emotional philanthropy and both resent 
being made the subject of agitators and notoriety 
seekers in the name of philanthropy. 

"The new conditions and the new environment 
are doing more than all human effort could do. 
The opportunity to help themselves is what has been 
lacking in the past. The opportunity being fully 
at hand it may safely be left for the natural initiative, 
energy, and ambition of the people to work out their 
own best success. In doing this the personal friend- 
ship and simple friendly interest of those who have 
had better advantages will be valuable and will 
be highly appreciated. Professional philanthropy, 
in which a sumptuary influence is attempted, will be 
injurious, and would be resented even at a sacrifice." 

The story of the South 's poverty and humiliation, 
of its fight for existence, of its redemption from disin- 
tegration and anarchy, is told again and again by 
Tompkins in books, pamphlets, speeches, and news- 
paper articles. He knew it well, for he was a factor 
in it all. He was happy and proud to be a factor 
in the rebuilding of the South and the elevation of the 
Southern poor white laborer. This noble feeling 
he imparted to his family, his kindred, and his friends. 

His youngest sister was a teacher in one of his mill 
schools. Both he and she were proud of her work. 


Each month she sent him careful reports of the school 
work and progress: the number of pupils enrolled, 
the average attendance, the ages and sexes of the 
pupils, the subjects taught, and the proficiency 
attained. A bundle of these reports, carefully pre- 
served, was found after his death among his private 
papers, one of his treasures, a token of the work of 
his youngest sister in helping the mill people, a token, 
too, of his desire to educate her into sympathy with 
and appreciation of mill workers. He was fitting 
her to be a just and sympathetic mill owner. 

Tompkins resented the idea of charity for Southern 
mill workers. The whole South was indeed deserving 
of charity, but it did not ask it and would not receive 

"It is the truth," said Tompkins, "that the con- 
dition of all Southern white folks was in sore need 
of amelioration during the so-called reconstruction 
period. Deplorable as was the condition of the white 
working man and his children of that day, the most 
enduring hardships of the time were borne by those 
who had not formerly been working people. During 
that period everybody was poor. All white folks 
had to join on one level of poverty to make a scant 
living with the left hand while the right hand was 
vigorously engaged in the defense of Christian civil- 
ization. The fight was with the dragon. If the 
South routed and survived the dragon of that day 
surely she will survive the horse-fly of this modern day. 

"In the redemption of the South from the semi- 
anarchy of reconstruction there were hindering in- 
fluences and helpful influences. Among the hindering 
influences were the misguiding of the negro by some 
who believed they were governed by philanthropic 
motives and by others who loved disorder and theft. 


"Some of the helpful influences were the all but 
unanimous cooperation of the whites against dis- 
order, for the establishment of factories with cash 
pay rolls for working people, and liberal help by 
Northern machine builders and merchants in the way 
of credits. 

"The real story of rescue is one of Southern pa- 
tience and courage and of sympathetic social and 
commercial support from sane and rational men and 
women of the North." 

The following account of the Atherton mills owned 
and managed by Tompkins is taken from an article 
by Leonora Beck Ellis, "A Study of Southern Cotton 
Mill Communities," published in The Criterion: 
"The xUherton Mill community, just outside of 
Charlotte,N.C., is a well-situated, well-housed, and 
prosperous-looking village of a thousand souls. The 
mill itself is relieved of the commonplace utility 
look by a picturesque growth of ivy, such as might 
grace an old English cathedral. The neat white 
cottages all have small vegetable and flower gardens, 
which are usually well kept, the result of a system of 
prizes offered by President D. A. Tompkins to the 
most successful gardeners. Up to about two and 
a half years ago the children of the community were 
left to find places in the municipal schools of Char- 
lotte or the district schools near by. But in spite of 
all his progressive management in other directions, 
President Tompkins, who is widely known as one 
of the most successful mill men North or South, 
found something still lacking. Nor was he slow to 
locate the desideratum. When I visited the com- 
munity a year ago I found they had a new and com- 
fortable school building, which is the gift of the man- 
agers, and is to serve also as the people's hall for all 


legitimate gatherings, literary, social, or otherwise. 
I found the school evolving with good promise. 
County and mill management had already joined 
financial forces to make the term nine months an- 
nually. One hundred and ten pupils from the homes 
of the operatives were being conscientiously taught by 
two teachers — one, sister of the mill president." 

Similar conditions existed in the mills of the Edge- 
field Manufacturing Company, Edgefield, S. C, 
of which Tompkins was president. 

The mill at High Shoals was even more favored 
with schools, churches, parks, playgrounds, gardens, 
lawns, and other instrumentalities of health, comfort, 
culture, and pleasure. This mill was an object of 
great favor and pride w^ith Tompkins. It aroused 
in him a deep sentimental interest , for it was built on 
the ruins of a former rolling mill which had flourished 
here for fifty years until wrecked by the baleful 
influences of slavery. Tompkins published and 
widely circulated a handsome album with half-tone 
pictures of High Shoals, showing the falls and water 
power unused in 1750, the rolling mills in 1800, the 
ruins of same in 1850, and the new cotton mills in 
1900. This album was sent to newspapers through- 
out the South. The Baltimore News comments as 
follows: "Mr. D. A. Tompkins of Charlotte, N. C, 
who has been one of the foremost men in the develop- 
ment of the South, has had printed four half-tone 
pictures of High Shoals, in that State. At this point 
is located one of the cotton mills in which Mr. Tomp- 
kins is interested, and he uses the pictures, covering 
a period from 1750 up to the present time, as illus- 
trating the eft'ect of slavery on the manufacturing 
interests of the South. Mr. Tompkins is an ardent 
believer in the future of the South, and especially 


of his own State of North Carolina. He points to 
the fact that North Carolina passed Massachusetts 
in growth, although Massachusetts had the start. 
Massachusetts, in turn, passed North Carolina only 
after the energies of the Old North State became 
paralyzed by the institution of slavery. Mr. Tomp- 
kins' pictures bear out his theory that the desiccating 
effects of slavery having worn off, the physical and 
human resources of the State are now beginning 
to reassert themselves, and that it is only a matter 
of time when North Carolina will again overtake the 
great New England Commonwealth." 

The agitation for child labor legislation especially 
aroused Tompkins. He believed thoroughly in the 
early training of children for work and by means 
of actual work. He placed his own nephew at an 
early age as an apprentice in machine shops and as a 
worker in cotton mills, in order to fit him to be a 
competent mill superintendent and an intelligent 
mill owner. He wrote and spoke on this subject 
for many years, advocating trade schools and ap- 
prentice systems in the great cities and in all manufac- 
turing communities. His address before the Na- 
tional Civic League, New York City, December, 
1906, may be taken as representing the best thought 
and best purpose of Southern mill men in opposing 
national child labor legislation. It also sets forth 
the favorite theory of Tompkins as to practical 
education and early preparation for life-work. 


"As this discussion progresses, it becomes more 
and more evident that we have a difficult and import- 

•An address before the Civic Federation, New York, December. 1906. 


ant subject. I shall speak with reference to that 
phase of the subject which relates to conditions in 
Southern cotton mills. It is important that some 
of the antecedent conditions vrhich existed in the 
South be understood, in order that we may appreciate 
what is novv' going on in the present conditions. 
You all know about the Civil War, and you have in 
your minds that its end was a calamity for the South. 
But the most thoughtful of Southern people do not 
believe that the calamity was unalloyed. The 
Civil War ended the institution of slavery; and if the 
poverty that came was a calamity, the abolition of 
slavery was in turn a sufficient benefit to balance it. 
[Applause.] But we had a subsequent period of so- 
called * reconstruction,' which w^as a calamity such 
as never before was borne by a Christian people, 
in which poverty became greater and conditions more 
dark than that in the time of, or as a consequence 
of, the Civil War itself. Through a period of almost 
twenty years succeeding the war the white people 
of the South sacrificed all else in the fight for Chris- 
tian civilization; and while carrying on that fight 
there was no question of wealth, nor of anything but 
**hog and hominy" and "bacon and greens" to 
live upon. In that time one hand was on the plow, 
while the other had to be held upon the sword. It 
was a twenty-years' war, and out of it everybody 
came in absolute poverty. Every man, woman, and 
child in the South was a veteran of that war. The 
beginning of the cotton mill construction was the 
end of that period, about 1865-85; and this construc- 
tion work has gone forward as a beneficence not 
alone for the owner, but for the operator; not alone 
for the owners and the operators, but for the farmer, 
who in the period of fake reconstruction saw cotton 


go from fifty cents down to five cents a pound, and 
had to live upon that. To-day the cost of making 
cotton is eight cents a pound; and it is selling, hap- 
pily, at twelve cents. The extremely hard condition 
of having to live upon the proceeds of cotton at 
five cents was relieved by the construction of cotton 
mills; and the farmer himself has begun to prosper 
simply because the cotton mill operatives have gotten 
out of competition with him on the farm. With 
the construction of the cotton mills began the ameli- 
oration of the condition of the people who worked on 
farms and also of the mill operatives. That amelio- 
ration has continued to the present time, until now 
we are just beginning to see the light of the beginning 
of a new day. Some gentleman asked what ought 
the child committee to have done.^ What is recom- 
mended? What is our duty? ]lVs a Southern cotton u 
mill man can see it, I answer : The mill managements 
having established, or extended, schools, having 
worked year after year for a compulsory educational 
law, having increased wages fifty to seventy-five 
per cent., and having brought what seems to us all 
in the South great prosperity (certainly great by 
comparison with former times) out of conditions of 
deepest poverty, we feel that we ought to be allowed 
to go on in that same course. I am not one who be- 
lieves that we can do beneficient things altogether 
by law. Every Southern cotton mill man is bringing 
conditions, as fast as he knows how, to that point 
which is desired by those who wish to see the age 
limit for the work of children up to fifteen years at 
least. I know that that is my sentiment; but I don't 
believe we should undertake to do it arbitrarily and 
at once. We should continue to build up the educa- 
tional forces, the social forces, and the financial con- 


dition as in the past. I prefer compulsory education 
to child labor legislation, by which we will avoid ex- 
clusive laws, which are always liable to become sump- 
tuary and interfere with the liberty of the individual. 

"We do not need any law on the subject of night 
work, because night work is almost at an end, and 
will be at an end at a very early date, in consequence 
of the influences which are already at work, some of 
w^hich are economic and some of which are altruistic! 
In one business in which I am engaged, which is the 
machine business — I am engaged in the cotton manu- 
facture and in the machine business — in the machine 
business we have developed a system of apprentice- 
ship in which we do not want to limit the age of the 
apprentice to be as high as sixteen, but we particu- 
larly desire that they be brought to us at twelve. 
That is not for the purpose of working them for 
profit, but it is for the purpose of education. Our 
latest contract requires that the apprentice shall 
go to school six months in the year and then he may 
work four months in the machine shop ten hours a 
day. This young apprentice's work consists in wait- 
ing upon the machinists. He gets waste for them 
and takes their tools to the blacksmith shop for repair 
and does other errands and light work. We are 
considering putting it in the contract that he must 
spend one month of the year in the country, and we 
expect to pay the board on the farm of those whose 
parents cannot afford it. 

"As long as men are greedy men there will be 
need ultimately of some law to set a limit to the 
overwork of children which cannot be eliminated 
by better motives. And also as long as there are 
tender-hearted women, there will be sentiments 
that are liable to injure children, as the tender mother 


so often spoils the child. I believe there are just 
about as many children spoiled by indulgence as 
there are by overwork." [Laughter and applause.] 

A Voice: "More." 

Mr. Tompkins: "A gentleman here says more, and 
I agree with him perfectly. 

A Voice: "He has no children." [Laughter.] 

Mr. Tompkins: "He looks like a father [Laughter] 
but whether that be true or not, two facts remain: 
As long as there are greedy men, we have got to 
protect children from overwork by them; and as long 
as there are people of excessively tender hearts, we 
must do the best we can to protect children from 
excessive indulgence. 

"I can recollect the first time I ever went 'possum 
hunting and stayed all night. When I got back in 
the morning my mother was in a great state of 
mind and wanted to know where I had been. I 
told her 'In the woods, hunting 'possums.' 'Didn't 
you sleep any.^' 'Oh, yes, we raked up some leaves 
and built a fire and slept from 11 o'clock until four. 
The darkies said the 'possums would be walking 
about 4 o'clock.' 'Well; you slept out there with the 
negroes.^' 'Wliy, certainly, yes, that was not the 
worst of it, the dogs were in the bunch also.' [Laugh- 
ter.] There is a great deal that a boy wants to do 
and is bound to do that we worry ourselves about 
unnecessarily. There is a lot of this child labor 
talk based upon misconception of the subject very 
much as the hen misconceived the situation of her 
young ducks in the water. Light work, in my opin- 
ion, is not bad for children, but, on the contrary, it is 
good for them and we ought to take them earlier, 
determine upon an apprenticeship, as I have en- 
deavored to do in my machine shop, and incorporate 


with their education an early knowledge of what 
work is. [Applause and voices: "That's right, that's 

"This matter of looking after the welfare of human- 
ity and its education has been carried by Germany 
much farther than it has been by the people of the 
United States. In their common schools, when the 
child reaches ten years of age, it is desired that it be 
determined what the child is going to do, what sort 
of education that child is going to have; and for those 
who w^ill be engaged in industrial pursuits, the fur- 
ther education is not differentiated with respect to 
scholastic and technical teaching, but in many cases 
it is required in addition that a certain amount of 
manual training shall be done, not from 12 years of 
age or 14, or 15, but from 10 — and I am right with 
the Dutch in their ideas about the proper way to 
educate children. [Laughter.] 

"One diflficulty I find in handling an apprentice 
system in a machine shop is that a lady will come to 
me — a mother or an aunt — with a fine fellow that 
she wants to have learn the machine business, and 
when I ask *How old is he.^' the reply often is: *19 
years old.' *Well,' I have to answer, 'he is too old; 
you ought to have brought him when he was 12.' 

"The subject is the more difficult because we can- 
not make rules. If I do not need laws in the machine 
shop, it is because the boys that I deal with have al- 
ready been so educated by home training and practi- 
cal teaching that it makes laws unnecessary. I 
couldn't abuse those boys if I wanted to, my own 
shop would revolt; the journeymen would revolt. 
In the cotton mill business I desire to see the least 
possible legislation, that is liable to become sump- 
tuary, and infinitely more attention to the subject 


of raising the social and moral condition of this whole 
people. If we could get a little more help from the 
child labor committee or anybody else on the phase 
of the work of betterment, it would be very highly 
appreciated and would be useful, whereas in many 
cases the agitation is doing positive injury, neglecting 
altogether, as the agitators do, consideration of what 
we are going to do with the child when legislated 
out of the mills, out of one of the easiest occupations 
that could be found and from a condition in which 
he has already been rapidly advanced. 

"Mr. Smyth here has a fine school at Pelzer. He 
has a library and a reading room and every facility 
that a city could give for the betterment of the opera- 
tives in Pelzer town. 

"In the course of time we will elevate this calling 
of spinning and weaving. At present, most people 
think of those employed in the cotton mill business 
as bemg employed in a place in which common white 
cloth is woven and laboriously turned out without 
the exercise of a particle of brains — and unhappily it 
is too much that way— but the more profitable busi- 
ness will always carry it toward a better understand- 
ing of what the production of better fabric is. When 
our textile work people come to an appreciation that 
weaving is an art which can be carried as high as any 
of the arts, not only in the production of well-designed 
carpets and fine carpets and in the production of well- 
designed lace curtains, but of fabrics even finer 
than those, and ultimately of tapestries which are 
works of art, why should we think so much about 
legrslation that is. liable to become too soon sumptu- 
ary and interfere with the higher development of 
which I speak. 

"Dr. Joseph LeConte, one-time profe^oor of chem- 


istry in the South Carohna college, and later profes- 
sor of geology in the University of California, said 
that the highest attribute of the white race was its 
capacity for training, both physical and mental. 
[Cries of "hear, hear."] Christian civilization is 
founded upon the fact contained in Doctor LeConte's 
statement that the white race can carry its training 
farther than that of any other and maintain it longer. 
The extent to which it may be carried is practically 

"\Miatever we do in the way of legislation against 
child labor for profit, let us not forget that we have 
a large duty to see that the child w^hen legislated out 
of the mill shall not be left wholly idle and untrained, 
but be mindful to provide enough w^ork in school and 
in some apprenticeship condition to develop a de- 
cently trained and educated man or woman, and with 
these conditions, raise the age of labor for profit to 
15 or 16 years. [Applause and cries of *'hear, hear."] 
Instead of enacting laws which totally expel children 
from that training so essential to their better develop- 
ment as men and women, let us leave the way wide 
open for both teaching and training — each in proper 
proportion; and so make our laws as to stimulate 
mental and physical training in proper degree while 
in childhood and youth. It is in the period of child- 
hood and youth that the faculty of mental and 
physical development may be made most fruitful of 
permanent results. Eight years used to be consid- 
ered a tender age for the child to start to school. 
Now the cry of the teacher is to get the child younger, 
and it is not uncommon to see three-year-old infants 
regularly enrolled in the kindergarten. By this 
means the child may be brought at eight years to a 
fair degree of elementary education; and under proper 


care the child is strengthened both physically and 
mentally. It transpires that the welfare of children 
means decreasing the school age and not increasing 

" As in school, so I believe it should be in the factory. 
The practical training should be begun while the 
pupil is yet young. It should, of course, be guarded 
at every point, to prevent the use of the child as a 
laborer for profit up to as high as 15 or 16 years, 
but work in the capacity of apprentice should begin 
earlier rather than later in life. I have thought 
that the following graded schedule of apprenticeship 
work and school attendance might well be authorized 
and controlled by law for boys and girls in textile 
pursuits : ^ 

" From 1 1 to 12 years, three months' work in a textile 
factory may be allowed but only after attendance 
at school for six months. 

"From 12 to 13 years, four m.onths' work in a 
textile factory may be allowed, but only after attend- 
ance at school for six months. 

"From 13 to 14 years, five months' work in a tex- 
tile factory may be allowed, but only after attend- 
ance at school five months. 

"From 14 to 15 years, seven m.onths' work in a 
textile factory may be allowed, but only after attend- 
ance at school for three months. 

"From 15 to 16 years, ten months' work in a textile 
factory may be allowed, but only after attendance 
at school for two months. 

"But what is the use of the law without first de- 
veloping the system? I state as a fact that the 
system is well under way in the Southern cotton 
mills, and that it has been under way since the first 
mill was built after the Civil War; and that better- 


ment is progressing to-day in Southern mill towns at a 
rate greater than the educational system of New York 

A Voice: "That isn't saying very much." 
Mr. Tompkins: "The gentleman says that is not 
saying very much. [Laughter.] Now what we 
want is not controversy. It does not matter whether 
the figures that have been given by magazine and 
platform reformers are correct or not; it matters not 
whether a picture of a loom has been published show- 
ing a bedraggled child at it, when no child ever did 
work at a loom either in this time or any other time. 
From time immemorial it has been the custom in the 
family for the young married woman to do the spin- 
ning and for the elders to do the weaving. That is 
where some of you ladies got your name of spinster. 
[Laughter.] To-day, as of yore, the younger people 
do the spinning and the elders do the weaving. A 
child cannot weave, and therefore the picture is to- 
tally misleading. Some of the figures that I have 
had in my hand were quoted by Capt. Smyth, and 
some of the figures which were made by the child 
labor committee have been taken back, or so modi- 
fied, that I do not think there are many figures left 
to argue about. But the Southern cotton mill men 
want to have you realize that we believe that we are 
doing right. The effort to help the operatives began 
at a time when everybody in the South was on ab- 
solutely the same level of poverty. Leaders were 
not elected but were chosen by a process of natural 
selection, as in the days of reconstruction, when the 
man on horseback led because he was the right man 
for the place. Immediately after the reconstruction 
anarchy was ended, the man who undertook to build 
a cotton factory was simply put forward many times 


without his consent, to help to do the most promising 
thing looking to ameliorating the condition of the 
people in the country. The warm ties of friendship 
and affection and love, which had been generated 
during the period of reconstruction and poverty 
and equality, made every man desirous of doing as 
much for his operatives as for himself. In this work 
of real reconstruction there came from unexpected 
sources much help, and it is to the eternal credit of 
the New England machinery builders that they 
gave liberal and long credit; and it was largely upon 
the basis of that help that a beginning was made and 
that success has been brought out of an industrial 
development, and will continue to be brought to a 
still larger growth for the infinite betterment of the 
humanity of the South and the Nation." [Great 





WHEN I was teaching in the mill village of 
the Edgefield Manufacturing Company, of 
which my brother was president," says Mrs. 
Grace Tompkins Ennett, "he sent me pamphlets, 
which he had published himself, with all the patriotic 
songs, and requested that I teach them to the chil- 
dren and have them sing them every day. These 
songs were: America, The Battle Hymn of the Re- 
public, The Blue and the Gray, Columbia the 
Gem of the Ocean, Dixie, Hail Columbia, Maryland, 
The Old North State, The Star-Spangled Banner, 
and Yankee Doodle. 

He was very anxious that we float the national 
flag over every school in which I taught, and asked 
me to do all possible to teach the children that it was 
their flag, and train them to reverence and love their 
country. He asked me to start the fashion of cele- 
brating July 4th in Edgefield, and always to stand 
by the thought that Washington and Jefferson and 
most of the founders of the Union were from the 
South, and that we had as much cause for pride in 
the Nation as any other section." 

The political chasm which for half a century had 
separated North and South seemed as wide and deep 
in 1902 as fifty years before. The solid South was 



apparently the only everlasting, indestructible, 
thoroughly dependable factor in American politics. 
This condition was a source of deep grief and trouble 
to Tompkins, who considered it not only a menace 
to our institutions but a hindrance and obstruction 
to Southern industrial progress. Prilled with this 
belief and inspired by deep love both of the Union 
and of the South, he used every opportunity, and 
made opportunities, to create in the North a better 
understanding of the South, and to revive in the 
South its old-time love of the Union. 

His 4th of July oration at Gastonia, probably the 
greatest of all his speeches, is a fine picture of his 
double love, a noble plea for a new South, forgetting 
slavery and remembering the Union. It deserves to 
be published by every Southern State government 
and distributed among the public schools, to be read 
before the pupils each 4th of July. '^^ ff 

^ ♦ 


"The occasion which we celebrate on July 4th is 
the Declaration of American Independence and the 
founding of a new nation. These events should be 
peculiarly dear to the hearts of the people of the 
South because of the prominent and active participa- 
tion of Southern men in severing the old political 
ties, in the successful conduct of the Revolutionary 
War, which was already begun when the Declaration 
was made, and in the establishment of a Federal 
government after the war. 

"The first motion made in the Colonial Congress 
looking to the independence of the colonies was 
proposed by Lee, of Virginia. This motion being 
favorably acted upon, a committee was appointed 


to draft a suitable declaration of independence. Mr. 
Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was made chairman of 
this committee, and became the author of the 
Declaration, which we have come here to-day to 

"In the war, which had begim before the Declara- 
tion and which continued after it, George Washing- 
ton, of Virginia, was made commanding general; and 
when the Federal Government was formed, with the 
name *the United States of America,' George 
Washington, of Virginia, was selected to be the head 
of the new nation. 

"Thus the most casual observation shows that the 
events which are annually celebrated by the Ameri- 
can people, on July 4th, were to a very large extent 
brought about by Southern men; hence, in the natural 
order of things, the day should be more popular in the 
South than in any other part of the American Union. 

"It transpired, however, that the popularity of 
July 4th, as a holiday in the South, commenced to 
wane about 1820, and continued to diminish until 
1860, when it was practically nothing. At that time 
Christmas had been so turned into a festive, instead 
of a devotional, holiday, as practically to supplant 
July 4th, in its fireworks, cannon firing, dancing, and 
other joyous festivities. 

"Immediately succeeding the Civil War of 
1860-'65, the negroes observed, in some degree, the 
Fourth as a holiday. To them it never went beyond 
being simply a day of no work. Their ancestors, as 
a people, had never participated in the patriotic 
emotions which impelled the events for which the 
Fourth may be celebrated with full appreciation. 

"I feel that this meeting here to-day to celebrate 
the 4th of July in the way that it used to be 


celebrated in every Southern State about a century 
ago, is significant of a new turn in the affairs of the 
people of the South. I feel that this new turn is one 
of momentous consequence in the reconstruction of 
our fallen fortunes and in the reclamation of our 
rightful influence and position in the American Union. 

" I will undertake to review some events of Ameri- 
can history, and in the light of these events show 
what promise there may be for us all in the impelling 
influences that bring us together to celebrate the 
4th of July to-day, and why it is peculiarly 
appropriate that the re-christening of the Fourth in 
the South should be done in Gastonia. 

"In the olden time, when a Southern man was 
appointed to write the Declaration of Independence, 
when a Southern man was leading the army of the 
revolution, and later when a Southern man was at the 
head of the new Federal government, this Piedmont 
region was fortunate in possessing a great variety of 
industrial interests. At that time the manufacturing 
interests in the territory south of the Potomac fully 
equalled, if they did not surpass, those of any other part 
of the United States. At the time of the formation of 
the Federal Union Virginia headed the list of all the 
states in population and wealth, and North Carolina 
stood third on the list. There was developed here in 
the Piedmont region blast furnaces, rolling mills, 
cotton factories, foundries, hollow ware factories 
(pots and ovens), woolen mills, wagon factories, and 
many other manufacturing industries. American 
commerce was, in the early part of the nineteenth 
century, proportionately of greater value on the high 
seas than it is now. Charleston, Wilmington, and 
other Southern ports stood relatively far higher in the 
world's commerce than they do to-day. 


"We had in those days a fine population of self- 
respecting and skilled white labor. The manu- 
factured products of this section stood high in com- 
merce, not only here at home, but in all markets. 
The rifles made at Greensboro and near Pendleton 
were an important element in frontier life in 
Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as at home. At 
Lincolnton, in the adjoining county to this, cotton 
mill machinery was manufactured in the early part of 
the nineteenth century; and some of the parts which 
are still preserved show that the design and work- 
manship were excellent. 

"If the progress in manufactures and commerce 
which was so much advanced in 1810 could have 
continued under the influences under which they 
reached such a considerable development, it is im- 
possible to conceive what our situation might be to- 
day. What hindered the progress.^ What adverse 
influence was it that not only hindered progress, but 
gradually dried up both the manufactures and the 
commerce of the South .'^ I hold that it was the 
institution of slavery. Under its influence this 
country gradually changed from one of free white 
labor, diversified manufactures, prosperous com- 
merce, and successful agriculture, to a country 
practically wholly occupied with the production of a 
few staple crops with slave labor. All diversity of 
agriculture, beyond a few staple crops, was driven 
out, insofar as making products for commerce was 
concerned. It came to pass that the country was 
given over to the big planter of cotton, tobacco, or 
rice with slave labor. The small farmer became 
poor. The iron worker, the millwright, the gun- 
maker, the carpenter, and other white skilled labor 
emigrated, to a large extent, to the Northwest. 


Those of them who were left drifted to farms, where, 
having no markets for diversified and perishable 
farm products, they became very poor in the attempt 
to raise crops in competition with slave labor. As 
the institution of slavery grew stronger, the South 
grew weaker in most of the elements necessary to a 
strong and independent people. 

"In the change from one condition to another, as 
above described, it is natural that, as manufactures 
and free labor were driven out by agriculture and 
black slave labor, the 4th of July as a memorial 
day and holiday should follow the fortunes of the 
white labor. The slave had no occasion to cele- 
brate it. With scant employment, and while grow- 
ing poorer year by year, the white farmer found little 
occasion to want to celebrate it, because it didn't fit 
the institution of slavery, which he so strongly 

"The changes referred to gradually led up to the 
conditions which precipitated the Civil War, and 
abohshed slavery. 

"For a quarter of a century succeeding the Civil 
War there was forced upon the South a condition of 
social and political anarchy surpassing in persistent 
error any other experience in the history of nations. 
In that time the Fourth was made a sort of holiday 
by the negroes. It seemed to have no particular 
meaning or significance in their minds beyond being 
a day of no work— a sort of day of aimless and useless 

"With slavery abolished, with the restoration of 
law and order and the reestablishment of honest and 
stable government — what then.^ 

"The descendants of the manufacturers of 1800 
immediately reestabhshed factories in 1900. I have 


shown how the great-grandsires of the present 
generation of North CaroUnians made a success of 
manufactures and developed a strong and prosperous 
commonwealth — then holding the third place in the 
Union. Whoever may wish to know what sort of 
success the present generation of North Carolinians 
are making of manufactures, and in building a 
strong and prosperous Commonwealth, may learn 
best by coming to see Gastonia. 

"Having begun anew the career of our forebears in 
supporting diversity of manufactures and agriculture 
and in fostering commerce, have we not come to 
the time when again the 4th of July should be our 
most cherished secular holiday? Its re-inauguration 
could not be more appropriately made than in a city 
where a great diversity of manufactured products, 
not only in cotton goods but in iron works, wood 
work, and in many other lines, and in a city whose 
neighboring farms sustain a diversified agriculture. 
This is, too, in a city where everything has been 
done practically inside of ten years. It is an instance 
where the people with only their own scant resources 
have practically built a successful and prosperous city. 

" Twenty years ago Gastonia was small and dilapi- 
dated. Nowadays things are different in Gastonia, 
because what the conditions have become in twenty 
years is an ample answer to any reproach for former 
conditions. Her achievements are more than an 
answer for herself. She has shown every poverty- 
ridden Southern town what wonderful resource there 
is in a brave home people when the}' try. 

"A celebration like this would be far short of its 
full JDurpose, if, in reviewing the past and discussing 
the present, we could not deduce some lessons for our 
guidance in the future. 


"First and most important of these I conceive to be 
contained in the proposition that if we would have 
our agriculture prosper, our manufactures must also 
prosper. We have once seen the consequences of per- 
mitting the destruction of manufactures in the interest 
of slave labor and agriculture. One of the most con- 
spicuous results of the political success of agriculture in 
a way that eliminated manufactures was the infinite 
injury that ultimately came to agriculture itself when 
manufactures were driven from the South. The 
deplorable condition to which agriculture fell grew 
worse and worse, until the revival of manufactures 
revived in turn the agriculture of the State in each 
locality, in proportion as manufactures grew and 

"There can be no competition between manu- 
factures, agriculture, and commerce. The success of 
one must of necessity be dependent on the others as 
well. Each of the three must be kept strong, in 
order to make a strong commonwealth. We must 
frown upon prejudice by manufactures against 
commerce. We must keep strong and healthy all 
three elements necessary to a strong and prosperous 
commonwealth. In Massachusetts the manufactur- 
ing element could destroy the farming element, but, 
as a matter of fact, it supports it. Except for the 
support of the manufacturing element, farming in 
Massachusetts would have long since been one of the 
lost arts. In her policies that state is wise in retain- 
ing in her counsels representatives of all three of these 
elements necessary to a strong and prosperous state. 

"Our long training as an agricultural people has 
brought to us a certain abiding degree of prejudice 
against manufactures and commerce. The manu- 
facturer is looked upon with too much suspicion. 


The railroads, our chief instrument of commerce, are 
treated too much as common enemies. I would 
regret to seem an apologist for the faults of either of 
these. On the other hand, I would regret to have to 
stand for the faults of those who, in the pursuit of 
emolument or position, foster and stimulate prejudice 
against manufactures and commerce. In listening 
to the sophistries of those who do this, the farmers of 
the State not only commit a grave error in dealing 
with their best friends, but hinder their own progress 
and do themselves injury. LThe cotton factories and 
the raiboads of the State are doing the farmers more 
practical good than all the office-holders and office- 
seekers in it ever can do it. The interest of the 
farmer lies with the manufacturer and the railroad. 
He should vote to foster and encourage these in 
proper ways, and not to handicap and harass them. 
We have seen how the Southern agriculturist of the 
nineteenth century succeeded in driving out manu- 
factures and drying up commerce, and to what end? 
To his own undoing. Since the war we have seen 
the State prosper, and agriculture regain a profitable 
position in proportion as manufactures have been 
established and increased. Everybody admits the 
value to a community of manufactures and good 
transportation facilities for commerce. It would 
seem natural that the representatives of these should 
be invited into the councils of the government. But 
our politicians, claiming to represent the farmers of 
the State, who are in a majority, set it up as offence, 
if it is suggested that a manufacturer be put in posi- 
tion to take a hand in the law-making of the State. 
This is the more incomprehensible when it is con- 
sidered that these politicians are rarely themselves 
farmers, nor are they in position to do the farmers 


approximately the benefit that they derive from the 
manufacturer. They simply lead the majority into 
an attitude of antagonism against a minority element 
the benefits of whose works everybody admit^ 

"This fight of the majority is all wrong. Each 
element should help the other element. The farmer, 
the manufacturer, and the railroad man should work 
together for the benefit of each other, and for the 
advantage of the whole State. If we do this, the 
way is now wide open to a bounteous prosperity. 

"Slavery circumscribed our habits of thought. It 
took away from us freedom of political action. It 
destroyed all profitable occupation for the white man 
who worked for wages. It made the South doubly 
solid; first, voluntarily solid for the protection and 
perpetuation of slavery; afterward necessarily solid 
against the disorder, violence, and even anarchy that 
followed in the wake of the destruction of the in- 
stitution. Slavery is now gone forever. The wreck 
of its destruction is now about cleared away. We 
may now, with unhampered hands, prosecute the 
work of reconstructing the industrial fabric of the 
South which was destroyed by slavery and by an 
excess of zeal for agricultural interest. 

"We may now rebuild the working man's school, 
which was swept away in the interest of agriculture 
and slave labor. We may again, if we concur in 
opinion, follow the lead of George Washington, the 
Southern protection President. We may, if we believe 
with him, follow the lead of Thomas Jefferson, the 
Southern expansion President. We may, if we think 
as he did, follow the lead of Andrew Jackson, the 
Southern sound money President. 

"And why not follow these, if we believe with 
them? They are all Southern men. Each and every 


one of us has come to follow the lead of that other 
Southern-born man, Abraham Lincoln, the aboli- 
tion President. Not one of us would fail to defeat a 
proposition for the restoration of slavery if we should 
meet such a proposition. Having come unanimously 
to concurrence with the views of Abraham Lincoln, 
we may now with propriety and advantage deter- 
mine whether or not we may follow any or all these 
other three Southern men; and formulating our 
convictions, follow them with independence. 

"Let it be distinctly understood that I am saying 
no w^ord of reproach against the South for having 
stood solid for the quarter of a century succeeding the 
Civil War. The solidity of her people in that period 
was of the same sort as that of the ministers of China 
when they were shut up with their people and were 
besieged by the heathen mob. Our siege by anarchy 
has been raised. The enforcement upon us in our 
homes of fanatical experiment and infamous at- 
tempts at sumptuary regulations of our affairs have 
been discontinued. The reasons for disregarding 
economic questions of government are past. The 
way is now^ open for us to participate in a rational 
determination of governmental questions. If we 
fail to do it, we become a people of opposition and 

"It may be charged that in what I say there is 
inconsistency, because I admit the error of slavery 
and yet complain, perhaps with bitterness, of our 
treatment during the period of so-called reconstruc- 
tion. But there is no inconsistency. As we were 
wrong in one case, so were our friends in the North 
wrong in the other case in nmch — yea, most — of what 
they did. The account of error North and South is 
about balanced. The opposing forces have brought 


US at last, the North and the South, to about the same 
course. If in the quarter century succeeding the 
Civil War the North sent to us men who were in the 
main thieves and plunderers, she is now making good 
to us this error by sending to us the young men of 
her best blood and most sterling merit, to aid in the 
industrial upbuilding, and as hostages of good faith, 
in her dealings with us to-day. 

"If we were plundered in the so-called reconstruc- 
tion period by carpet-baggers who came South 
empty-handed, the machine builder and capitalist of 
the North are in a considerable degree helping us to 
recover our losses by extending generous credits, and 
in many cases becoming partners with us in our 
ventures. We have come back to that condition 
which prevailed in 1776, which made the occasion 
which we are here to celebrate, when the people of 
America had only common interests and were a 
united people. 

"The loyalty with which our fathers and grand- 
fathers supported the institution of slavery was a 
mistake. It drove out diversified manufactures and 
turned commerce away from us. It did not even 
contribute to the lasting advantage of agriculture, 
but brought it to a most depressed and unprofitable 
condition. The reduction and confinement of the 
State's resources to agriculture alone put us from 
third place in wealth and population to a position 
low down in the list. 

"We return here to-day to a loyalty to the senti- 
ments and purposes of our Revolutionary ancestors, 
which were the highest, the noblest, and the purest 
that ever existed amongst any people." 

This speech was delivered in many North Carolina 
towns, and its ideas were proclaimed and emphasized 


by Tompkins during several years in speeches 
throughout the South. 

The newspapers caught up his plea for inde- 
pendence of thought; and the politicians undertook 
to see in him an undeveloped political potentiality. 
They urged him to become an independent can- 
didate for Governor, for United States Senator, 
for Member of Congress, for Mayor of Charlotte. 
They did not understand him. His mental horizon 
was too large for their narrow vision. His strong 
and clear-cut ideas of fundamental truths in govern- 
ment and political economy unfitted him for the 
ever-shifting drama of political life. The vestments 
of the politician wereJtoo^malHojLlii^j^^^ 

While Tompkins loved the Union, and sought to 
break down barriers between North and South, he 
w^as strong and firm in advocacy of Southern white 
supremacy. This he considered fundamental not 
only to Southern industrial progress, but also to 
Southern civilization. He proclaimed this idea 
North and South in speeches and in the press. His 
views on the subject are set forth in the following 
extracts from one of his speeches : 


"The South is compelled to stand for the supre- 
macy of the white man, or suffer decline. Its 
ultimate development depends upon escaping the 
fate of Cuba and almost all South America. Under 
similar conditions Spanish America succumbed to 
adverse influences. 

"In the South all politics in both parties is subject 
to this one fundamental principle. Political eco- 
nomics must be subject to it. We have not only the 


example of Cuba and South America to guide us, 
but we have had in the reconstruction period a 
most grievous experience of our own to confirm the 
correctness of the principle. The future develop- 
ment and progress of the colored race is as depend- 
ent upon the white standard as is the white race it- 
seK. It is not meant here to suggest that the colored 
race be denied any rights or the exercise of any 
proper influence. But the standards set up for the 
colored race must be white standards. In this 
situation and in this one cause the white people of 
the South must ever stand together. 

"The South made a stupendous mistake about the 
institution of slavery. The sufferings of its people 
as a result of this mistake exceed almost those of any 
other modern people. Its experiences make it abhor 
the institution. It has never made a mistake about 
race relations. The colored people as a whole 
never suffered at the hands of its people. There 
was never a time when Southern slavery was not an 
advance on African savagery. Dominion of white 
influence is not in the least an attack upon the 
colored citizen or any of his fair prerogatives or just 
privileges, any more than it is upon the white child. 

"The South has abandoned slavery, and it should 
now abandon such political principles as were made 
to fit the institution. Nothing could be^ more 
important than to maintain high standards of civiliza- 
tion. Accepting that as essential above all things, 
then we ought to work out our new political eco- 
nomics on the basis of modern conditions. The 
tariff, American shipping, the currency, conservation, 
count as nothing to our being on safe ground where 
standards of civilization are concerned; but, after 
that, the South has need for light on all these and 


more. The time has come when we must require 
those who represent us in Washington to be sound 
upon the fundamental principle of white supremacy, 
and then also support sound political economics, 
fitted to modern times and conditions." 

There is no mistaking the deep love which Tomp- 
kins felt for the South, nor his conviction of the 
necessity for white supremacy. But he believed 
that the South, now emancipated from slavery, was 
ready for emancipation from the mental tyranny of 

In a speech on National Expansion, which he 
delivered extensively during the national discussions 
over the annexation of the Philippine Islands, 
Tompkins shows himself clearly and strongly in his 
threefold character of a patriotic American, a de- 
voted and loyal Southerner, and a firm believer in 
the Darwinian theory and Spencerian philosophy of 
" The Survival of the Fittest." He was a true Anglo- 
Saxon, loving land and loving power, but loving 
liberty more — not theoretical and impracticable 
liberty, nor the unrestrained and desolate freedom of 
the wild ass of the desert, but practical liberty 
based upon human nature and human experience and 
common sense, the liberty of law and order and 
civilization, the liberty of industrial achievement 
and of unlimited human progress. 


*' Civilization a Survival — The history of nations 
is largely a record of 'the survival of the fittest.' 
Modern nations exist by reason of the death 
of the nations of the past. It is useless now to 
argue the justice of the destruction of any nation of 


former times. That nations have fallen when no 
longer fit to rule, is a fact and it may safely be pre- 
dicted that the future will be a verification of the 
wisdom of the destruction of outworn and effete 
forms of government, which had to be destroyed 
that the progress of the world might not be retarded. 

*'In a business man's every -day life he sees this 
law of the survival of the fittest at work, thinning out 
the ranks of his competitors, introducing new 
material. And it would be the silliest kind of 
sentimentalism for the successful man of affairs to 
sit down and lament his past success and cease his 
efforts to widen his avenues of trade, because he may 
have been the indirect means of pushing to the wall 
some other business man, forcing him to assign or to 
go into bankruptcy, leaving his wife and children de- 
pendent on charity. Yet the like happens every day. 
Competition, the very essence of business life, puts 
down some and elevates others. The fittest survive. 
It must be so, else there is no life, no progress. 
Whatever the socialist and other sentimentalists may 
think, the survival of the fittest is, has been, and will 
always be the law of progress in national affairs, in 
business, and in all the other walks of life. 

''A Retrospection— When the United States set up 
business in 1789, they were small in numbers, popula- 
tion, and area, confined to the Altantic slope. It is 
true they all claimed dominion to the great ocean on 
the west, but that claim was disputed, and success- 
fully, too, for many years. The beginning of an 
expansion of territory was inaugurated by the 
purchase of Louisiana by Jefferson in 1803. The 
reason given by those who favored the acquisition 
of the new territory was necessity. The young 
republic did not feel that it was strong enough to go 


to war with the nation that then held the port of 
New Orleans, so it proposed to acquire rights in the 
Mississippi valley by purchase. The territory of 
Louisiana, with its Indians, Spaniards, Creoles, and 
French was acquired, Jefferson himself saying there 
was no constitutional warrant for thus expending 
the public money. He never said the Republic had 
no right to acquire territory by conquest, nor did he 
ever quote the memorable declaration of 1776 about 
the 'consent of the governed,' while consummating 
the bargain with Napoleon. It seems that such a 
weighty (?) objection to the trade in hand was then 
overlooked, and thus James Monroe, the United 
States Minister at Paris, and Napoleon closed the 
deal without consulting the Shawnees, the Sioux, the 
Spaniards, the Creoles, and the French residents then 
on the land called Louisiana. 

" Then, in a few years the Spaniards and Seminoles 
of Florida were sold out to the United States. The 
Seminoles and Spaniards there were not consulted 
nor was the consent of those to be governed obtained. 
The Anglo-Saxon desire for land and the necessities 
of the young republic subordinated all other con- 
siderations; and Spain's colonial possession, Florida, 
was made a territory of the United States. 

The State of Texas was acquired in 1844 by 
annexation, which led to the Mexican War. When 
the affairs of that war were wound up, the United 
States took some land, some Indians, and some 
Spaniards, in payment of the war debt, and to punish 
Mexico for being indiscreet enough to go to war with 
us. It has been said that Mexico was unfit to 
govern Texas; that her power there was a menace to 
progress, and that the Texans won their independence 
some time before 1844, in consequence of Mexico's 


tyranny and incapacity for enlightened government. 
However, this country acquired Texas by the consent 
of the governed, it seems; but the territory compris- 
ing Arizona, New Mexico, Cahfornia, Utah, Nevada, 
and some additional strips, was not acquired by the 
* consent of the governed.' 

"In 1867, when General Grant purchased Alaska, it 
was done only by the consent of this country and 
Russia. The Esquimaux and the Indians and the 
fur traders up there were not consulted, nor their 
future rights considered. The United States thought 
they needed the land and they paid for it, consulting 
the tenants in nothing. 

" The Why of All This — It may be remarked, in the 
first place, that the United States now have all the 
land referred to above; that some of it has been 
formed into states and admitted into the Union on 
equal terms with the thirteen original states. In the 
second place, it may be noted that in acquiring this 
territory no time was specified as to the term during 
which the new territory was to remain without the 
privileges of statehood, nor was that question then 
considered; and that no conditions were imposed 
on this country by virtue of any acquisition, ex- 
cept those freely imposed by this nation upon 

"But the veriest tyro knows that we did not ex- 
pand to the Pacific Ocean or the West all by chance, 
or because the territory happened to be contiguous or 
because we punctiliously observed certain tenets 
of the Declaration of 1776, or certain injunctions that 
Washington left to Congress about entangling 
alliances. We have expanded because we deserved 
to expand, because we demonstrated our capacity to 
buy land, to conquer land, to annex land, and to 


govern the people on that land. Without such 
capacity our past expansion would never have taken 
place, and would have remained an unrealized dream 
in the minds of some — nothing more. 

" The Consent of the Governed Theory — It may be 
pertinent to remark here that the government of this 
country has never proceeded on the theory of a 
literal application of the principles of the Declaration 
of Independence to the government of its territories 
especially when the territories contained inferior 
peoples; nor have the several states literally applied 
those doctrines in carrying on their local govern- 
ments. At the very moment Jefferson was writing 
those memorable words about the consent of the 
governed his several hundred slaves, governed by 
overseers on his Virginia plantation, had no govern- 
ment by the consent of the governed. The several 
states composing the Congress w^hich published 
that declaration to the world had restrictions 
numerous and many on the suffrage, and did not 
govern their inhabitants by consulting the wishes of 
all the governed. 

"But, it may be said, the several states have 
gradually removed those restrictions, and the ten- 
dency is now to consult the wishes of all the governed. 
This is all very true, especially when the governed are 
thought to be worthy of exercising the rights of 
citizens on account of superiority of morals and 
capacity for civilization. Instead, however, of this 
country consulting the wishes of all the governed, it 
has always shown the good sense not to do so. And 
in pursuing such a policy this country has gained 
the proud place she now holds as a civilizing factor 
in the world's progress. If, as Mr. Gladstone once 
said, the English economy of government is founded 


on inequalities, it only shows that such inequalities 
have inured to the benefit of all mankind, as witness 
that wherever England goes, trade, commerce, Chris- 
tianity, civilization, and good government follow. 
Certain social and moral conditions have rendered 
so-called inequalities in our governmental policy 
necessary; inequalities of mere birth, of course, are 
not here considered. 

"The absolute impossibility of a practical, literal 
realization of the theory of Jefferson about the 
political equality of all men, then, is apparent. 
Those who invoke such a doctrine now, to argue 
against the further expansion of this country, betray 
an ignorance of our past history which is little less 
than absurd. The whole history of our dealings with 
inferior races, such as the Indian and Southern 
negro, ought to be gentle reminders of the fact that a 
good government in this country would have always 
been impossible, based on a literal interpretation of 
the Declaration of Independence; and would to-day 
be impossible in almost every Southern state. It 
may be argued that our treatment of the Indian has 
been immoral and degrading, and that our present 
treatment of the Southern negro is equally so. But 
the treatment which the Indians and the negroes 
have received at the hands of the superior races has 
been the treatment all inferior races have received at 
the hands of superior races, the Declaration of 
Independence to the contrary notwithstanding. 
Joshua's treatment of the Canaanites was not half so 
humane as our treatment of the American Indian. 
Platitudes about equality and natural rights do not 
alter race prejudices and laws of nature. It is a 
wise, a righteous provision of God's law that provides 
that the imperfect must die that progress be made, 


and that the whole race be not engulfed in ignorance 
and vice, superstition and paganism. 

*'This leads me to say that the South once made 
the great mistake of trying to perpetuate African 
slavery in the face of the English prohibition and in 
the face of civilization. But the North also made an 
equally great mistake when it gave the emancipated 
slave, ignorant and inferior to his white neighbors, 
the right to vote. The question of the negro's 
physical freedom is settled forever, but the vain 
attempt to apply the theory of the Declaration of 
Independence here in the South to the negro, giving 
him the power to vote, without regard to his mental 
and moral qualifications, is not yet wholly settled 
in favor of progress and good order. Judging from 
past experience, it is safe to say that the theoretical 
doctrines of political equality and the consent of the 
governed will play a very small part in the final 
adjustment of the race problem. Plain, practical 
good sense and Anglo-Saxon superiority will govern 
in the end; and if the negro stands in the way of 
progress he will have to get off the earth, just as the 
Massachusetts Indians did before the face of Capt. 
Miles Standish and his Puritan soldiers. 

"We have lately taken up a war in the interest of 
humanity. We have destroyed the sovereignty of 
an effete nation in Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philip- 
pines. Those islands are now certainly not Spain's, 
and wh}^? Simply because she does not deserve to 
rule them. We have violated no code of inter- 
national ethics in taking the foot of Spain off the 
necks of the Cubans and Filipinos. We would have 
deserved the censure of civilization if we had not 
done as we did do. Therefore, we have settled the 
first great problem in expansion in this particular 


instance; we have demonstrated that we have the 
moral character sufficient to protect the weak from 
the oppressions of the vicious and tyrannical. In 
doing so, we have been true to our traditions and our 
history. We have realized that we owed it to civili- 
zation to do as we have done, viz., destroy forever 
the sovereignty of Spain in her colonies. And when 
Spain's power was thus destroyed in her colonies, the 
one supreme question of expansion was settled for- 

"Unless we intend to reverse our past policy of 
dealing with inferior races and institutions and enter 
on a policy of decrepitude and imbecility we need 
fear nothing from extending our sovereignty over the 
Philippines. The man who doubts our ability to 
restore order in the Philippines and to rule them as 
we do Alaska and New Mexico and Hawaii must 
certainly have lost faith in our institutions. It 
seems to me he must deliberately give the lie to the 
whole history that is behind us. 

"It is said that we have no constitutional right to 
annex the Philippines. If that be true, then there 
was no constitutional warrant for the acquisition of 
Alaska, Louisiana, Hawaii, or New Mexico. Such 
theories and refinements may amuse the antiquarian, 
but they certainly do not appeal to common sense. 
We have been governing, taxing, and acquiring alien 
territory and peoples since the beginning of this 
century through a period of 100 years, and it is rather 
late now to enter such a plea. 

"The idea of annexing a 'subject people' to this 
country seems to give the anti-expansionists alarm 
just as if they never heard of such a thing before. 
Are not the Alaskans a * subject people.^' Have we 
not seen the people acquired with the Louisiana 


purchase go through all the stages from the condi- 
tion of a 'subject people' to the highest form of 
self-government known to our institutions? These 
so-called anti-imperialists argue that a 'subject 
people' means a monarchical government and a 
colonial system, and that as they are against a 
monarchy and in favor of a republic, therefore they 
are anti-imperialists and against what they call the 
colonial system, forgetting our past history and 
that a republic has to deal with the same prob- 
lems of government with which a monarchy has to 

"We have seen ourselves go through the process of 
evolution from colonies to a Federal Union, control- 
ling large areas of land under a territorial s;y*stem of 
government, which is only another term for a colonial 
system, and yet we pretend that we are afraid of 
colonies ! We have had colonies in this country ever 
since we ceased to be colonies ourselves. For any one, 
then, to say that, all of a sudden, the expan- 
sionists are insisting on embarking on some before -un- 
heard-of scheme, insisting on adopting a new colonial 
system for this country, certainly indicates a remark- 
able forgetfulness of our past history. 

"Has the expansion of this country to include the 
Spaniards and Indians of Florida made us forgetful 
of the great principle of local self-government.'^ Has 
the expansion of our republic to include the Creoles, 
the Indians, and the French of Louisiana, and the 
Spaniards and the Indians and the half-breeds of 
New Mexico made us insensible of the rights of 
people to govern themselves? No, a thousand times, 
no! Our history gives the lie to such a proposition, 
while at the same time our expansion has taught us 
that the practical application of the theories of the 


Declaration of Independence cannot yet be made to 
all classes and conditions of men. That lesson is 
worth something, because it teaches us that we can 
govern the Philippines just like Thomas Jefferson 
governed Louisiana, or Polk governed the lands 
acquired from Mexico, and with just as little danger 
to our institutions, our constitution, and the Declara- 
tion of Independence. 

"The climatic objection is one of last resort. We 
had Alaska in one extreme and Florida in the other 
before the late war with Spain. The climate of 
Alaska did not prevent the discovery of gold in the 
Klondike; the climate of Cuba will not prevent an- 
other George Waring from going there to aid in 
cleansing its cities, nor will climate prevent the 
benefits of good government from being carried to the 
Philippines by the United States. It is the mission 
of humanity and science to counteract the ill effects 
of climate and to show men how to live under adverse 
conditions. Indeed, I believe that the time is coming 
when all tropical countries will be governed by the 
people of temperate zones. And finally, if it is a 
good thing to take our religion to the East, why is it 
not as correct a thing to do to take our goverment 
there, climate or no climate, just as we send our 
missionaries out regardless of tropical suns and 

The two greatest passions of Tompkins were love 
of home and love of country. With him the Tomp- 
kins family and Edgefield and South Carolina and 
the Southern States were the heart of the Nation 
but not greater than the Nation. Patriotism with 
him was a larger passion than love of home, for 
patriotism was love of home writ large. He was 


proud of liis race and proud of his country, because of 
the ideals that they represented. He favored 
national expansion, not for the sake of dominion, 
but for the increase of freedom and the spread of 
liberty over the globe. 








THE mind of Tompkins, at once practical and 
philosophic, was peculiarly attracted by prob- 
lems connected with the marketing of cotton. 
His life on a cotton plantation, his experience in 
hauling cotton to market, his career as builder, 
manager, and owner of cotton mills, his experience as 
cotton buyer and cotton seller had impressed upon 
his mind the disadvantages of fluctuations in cotton 
prices and the evils of cotton speculation. He under- 
stood the urgent need of improvement in the existing 
system of marketing cotton. 

In the Manufacturers' Record, August 11, 1904, he 
published an article which analyzed the problem and 
suggested a solution. The article was as follows: 


"The cotton situation has been unsatisfactory 
either to the farmer or to the manufacturer for the 
last ten years . The price of raw cotton has within the 
decade ranged from a figiu'e less than five cents to one 
exceeding 15 cents. The low price was a hardship 



on the farmer, and the high price has paralyzed the 
cotton goods trade, which paralysis extends naturally 
to the cotton mills also. Every farmer, merchant, 
and manufacturer who is conservative, will testify to 
the fact that unsettled conditions are adverse to the 
safe conduct of his business. Each of these would 
prefer conditions which eliminate all speculative 
features and which carry in these respective callings 
a fair, moderate profit. 

"Some little review of past conditions may be of 
value in elucidating present conditions. 

"The institution of slavery reduced the South 
practically to the single occupation of agriculture 
with slave labor. Slave labor meant of necessity 
ignorant labor. The conditions in the decade im- 
mediately preceding the Civil War were such as 
admitted no very material increase in population and 
little, if any, in wealth. The conditions totally 
stifled manufactures. The equivalent natural in- 
crease in population emigrated to the northwest free 
states, or, in case of a few whites carrying many 
negroes, to the southwest slave states. 

"After the Civil War the conditions were semi- 
anarchic. The South was compelled to make a 
new start in the one industry of agricufture and 
with ignorant negro labor. The people knew noth- 
ing else. There was no diversity worth consider- 

"Speaking in round numbers in all cases, the 
events of the development since the Civil War may 
be illustrated by the following figures. Taking the 
four decades succeeding the war, we find the pro- 
duction of cotton and the development of manu- 
factures represented, as shown by figures, as fol- 



2,500,000 bales cotton, at 24 cents $300,000,000 

Manufactures 10,000,000 

Total $310,000,000 


5,000,000 bales cotton, at 12 cents $300,000,000 

Manufactures 25,000,000 

Total $325,000,000 


10,000,000 bales cotton, at 6 cents $300,000,000 

Manufactures 100,000,000 

Total $400,000,000 


10,000,000 bales cotton, at 12 cents $600,000,000 

Manufactures 400,000,000 

Total $1,000,000,000 

"The figures as to manufactures are estimated, 
as representing the value to the South of increasing 
manufactures; and the price obtained for the cot- 
ton crop in the fourth decade shows the influence of 
diversified interests in relieving the harsh competi- 
tion, when everybody had practically one business 
or calling. 

"The time will probably not come again when 
cotton will go to five cents. Southern people have 
found that there are other things which may be done 


to better advantage than to produce cotton under 
adverse conditions. 

*'It has been pointed out that in the first three dec- 
ades succeeding the Civil War, as the production 
increased, the price decreased. In each decade 
the product of quantity and price was a constant, 
reaching $300,000,000. Now we have the same 
sort of situation, except on a higher level. Take this 
year's crop, for example. Weather conditions may 
make it vary from 11,000,000 bales to 13,000,000 
bales. If the former, the price will probably aver- 
age 13 cents, while at the latter figure the price may 
average 11 cents. 

13,000,000 bales, at 11 cents $715,000,000 

11,000,000 bales, at 13 cents 715,000,000 

"The great drawback to the production and the 
manufacture of cotton is the uncertainty as to quan- 
tity and price. A practical plan to eliminate this 
uncertainty would be of untold advantage to the 
farmer, the manufacturer, and the merchant the 
world over. It would be perhaps of greatest value 
to the ultimate consumer. 

"The proposition before us, to secure a cotton sup- 
ply in average and satisfactory quantity from year 
to year and at an average satisfactory price is as 
follows : 

(1) We must find some way to make the annual 
consumption the average of the production for at 
least ten years. 

(2) We must find some way to maintain the price 
at the average of what it would be in ten years under 
the varying influences throughout the ten years. 


''Two means or ways for accomplishing this aver- 
age suggest themselves. The first of these is by 
State control. This would mean that the principal 
cotton-growing states should join in making a 
monopoly of the commerce in cotton. If each State 
would enact a law to take the entire crop of cotton 
in the State at 10 cents a pound, and sell it out to the 
cotton mills at 10 cents plus the cost of conducting 
the business, and hold to the one price, regardless 
of whether the crop is large or small, then the aver- 
age could be accomplished. If in a big crop year 
there was a surplus, it would be carried over; if a 
deficiency, then the mills would simply shut down a 
week or a month or whatever time would be neces- 
sary on account of the deficiency. 

"The plan seems unusual. The conditions are 
unusual, viz., for a world product to be subject to the 
extreme variations of weather and other influences 
in an area that is by comparison insignificant as 
compared to the area of the consumption of cotton 
products. In such narrow area natural influences 
become often cumulative to make an abnormal low 
crop or an abnormal high crop. While the plan is 
unusual, it is not without precedent in other fields 
of staple products. South Carolina monopolizes the 
commerce in whiskey, France in tobacco, Hungary 
in wines from her vineyards. Many cities monopo- 
lize the liquor traflSc by dispensaries. The United 
States monopolizes the mail business. Ordinarily, 
it is far best to leave things under the control of 
natural causes and influences. Ordinarily, nature has 
provided methods of getting average results. Some- 
times a means or method is provided by nature, but 
left for us to find and operate, as in the case of in- 


"The second and most practical plan would be by 
and through a corporation whose capital is sufficient 
and whose field of operations covers enough ground 
and time to accomplish average results. It is by 
means of corporations that the risks of life and fire 
are averaged and a life or fire insurance premium 
is figured out to cover the risks. The company 
cannot control life or death, or prevent fire. It can 
only find an average of these, and mitigate harsh 
results, which would fall to individuals, if they were 
not averaged. It might be apprehended that such 
a corporation would control the cotton business. 
It could not; and only disaster would follow any at- 
tempt to do it. It would be as important and 
necessary for such a company to figure correctly the 
proper averages of quantity and price as it is for a 
life insurance company to figure correctly the aver- 
age life expectation and corresponding premium. If 
either of these figures is not accurately ascertained 
beforehand, no safe business could be done. So in 
the matter of the world's demand for cotton and 
price. The average of these two factors is a constant 
for the same conditions. A company would pro- 
vide for yearly variations in production the same 
as an insurance company provides for the individual 
uncertainty of a man's life. 

*'The two methods of State and corporate effort 
are mentioned in order to cover, in this article, the 
scope of the subject. The method of control by 
the states would be objectionable: (1) because all 
the cotton states could not be brought to agreement 
on the subject; (2) it would lead to corruption in 
politics and State government; (3) it would be too 
socialistic in tendency to suit the American people. 

"The plan of corporate effort would be practically 


parallel with the work of the insurance companies 
in averaging the rates for life and fire insurance. 
The operation of such a plan would totally eliminate 
the speculator. It would break up all bucket shops, 
the number of which is now increasing, and the oper- 
ations of which are extending to the small towns even. 
It would stay the spirit of speculation. The oper- 
ations of the plan would vastly benefit the farmer, 
the manufacturer, the merchant, and the con- 
sumer. If the average production should begin to 
fall below the requirements, the price could be 
raised a little. If the surplus should become chronic, 
let the price be lowered a little. 

"The bettered conditions would attract immigra- 
tion to the South, and the increased demand for 
cotton could be met by this immigration. It is 
not in the interest of the Southern farmer nor of 
the cotton-growing states to undertake to maintain 
cotton at so high a price as will stimulate large pro- 
duction in other countries. A fair average price 
will hold the monopoly in the United States in the 
future, as in the past." 

A month later, in an address on "The Storing and 
Marketing of Cotton," delivered before the New 
England Cotton Manufacturers' Association at Bret- 
ton Woods, New Hampshire, he strongly advocated 
a system of cotton warehouses under corporate 
management, wherein farmers might store their 
cotton, receiving storage certificates, transferable 
in the markets of the world and available as col- 
laterals for loans. The following extracts will illus- 
trate the general character of this address and its 
main ideas: 

"In many other departments of life we have found 
a means to get an approximate average of consump- 


tion and supply. In order to do this for cotton it 
would seem that the best plan is to form a company 
or system of companies, which should build large 
central warehouses in the cotton-producing area and 
issue certificates upon the cotton which would be 
stored in them. The warehouses should be built in 
the centres of cotton production, where the farmer 
himself may go and store his cotton and, if he is so 
disposed, hold his cotton to see whether it goes up 
or down, keeping in his possession a storage certifi- 
cate. The warehouse must be large enough to jus- 
tify eflScient management and clerical organization 
suflScient to take care of it; to justify a system of 
sprinklers and other fire protection. It must be in 
the hands of a corporation whose certificates are 
known to be absolutely good for the cotton. 

"In other staple crops we have found means of 
storage to make the product security for money at 
the banks while it is stored, take proper care of it 
in respect to fire, water, and other sources of damage, 
and to issue a storage certificate upon it which be- 
comes a trading basis anywhere in the United States. 
If we bring the cotton crop to that same condition, 
build warehouses, issue receipts, let it be known 
that those receipts represent the cotton and that the 
cotton never moves till the receipt comes back to 
release it, we shall have taken a tremendous step 
forward in the interest of everybody connected with 
the cotton trade." 

In a subsequent address, December 12, 1904, be- 
fore the National Cotton Convention at Shreveport, 
La., Tompkins develops his plan in fuller detail. 
After discussing various factors that affect cotton 
production and cotton prices, viz., boll weevil, 
foreign production, scarcity of labor and lack of a 


cotton-picking machine, he considers the evils of 
cotton speculation, due to fluctuations in the size of 
the crop; and, as a remedy, proposes a carefully 
planned and regulated system of cotton warehouses. 

"We furnish to the world one year a crop which is 
overwhelmingly big and the next year a crop which is 
insufficient to supply the ordinary demands. This 
creates a condition in which the speculator holds 
high carnival in dealing in cotton. The legitimate 
merchant and manufacturer are made to turn gam- 
bler, whether they will or not, and the ordinary course 
of trade is tremendously disturbed. The average 
production for ten years, if it could be maintained, 
would bring about an average price. Inasmuch as 
the climate forbids this, from one year to another it 
is important that the production shall be by some 
artificial means brought to more or less of an aver- 
age and thereby the price brought to an approximate 
average. I believe that this might best be done by 
the development of a system of warehouses which 
would do far more than shelter and care for the cot- 
ton. Existing warehouses simply issue a receipt for 
a bale of cotton. No effort is made to state what kind 
of cotton the receipt stands for, nor does the ware- 
house company assume any responsibility for the 
grade, weight, or anything else connected with the 
cotton. Insurance is higher than it ought to be. 

"I believe that if a comprehensive warehouse 
company would engage the best graders to be had, 
and would issue a certificate in which every factor re- 
lating to the bale of cotton was accurately entered, 
and the warehouse company stand responsible for 
the description of the cotton as given in the receipt, 
such a receipt could be traded in to better advantage 
than the bale of cotton itself. The purchaser of the 


receipt in Carolina, in England, or in Germany, 
would know more about the particular bale of cotton 
in question from the receipt in hand, than he would 
know about it if he saw the bale of cotton. Cotton 
being one of the very best collaterals on the market, 
such receipts, standing for the cotton exactly, might 
be traded in in the financial institutions of the whole 
world. Thus it would be feasible to bring cotton 
within reach of the surplus money of the world; and, 
when there was a large crop, the surplus would un- 
doubtedly be carried over hy financial institutions, 
as investments, until a small crop should bring the 
price to an average. It would save the forcing of 
the surplus on the market, and by proper construc- 
tion of warehouses, proper protection against fire, 
and building in proper units, the cost of carrying 
cotton could be very much reduced both by reduc- 
tion of insurance and by reduction of interest rate in 
consequence of the certificate being an accurate rep- 
resentation of the cotton itself. 

"I exhibit herewith the picture of a warehouse 
which I have designed to carry from 20 to 30 thou- 
sand bales of cotton according to weight and extent 
of compression. I exhibit also a receipt which not 
only stands for a bale of cotton, but gives the gen- 
eral classification, the grade, the length of the staple, 
the strength of staple, the degree of tinge, the degree 
of softness, and the degree of fineness. All these 
points are to be given in accordance with the judg- 
ment and the skill of the best and most expert graders 
obtainable. This record, written by experts, would 
make a certificate representing a bale of cotton stand 
for more to a purchaser than if an average unexpert 
purchaser could see the bale of cotton himself. 
This certificate would stand for more to a banker in 


Liverpool, or in Bremen, than the cotton would to 
the average man in the town where the cotton was lo- 
cated. It would, in addition to having the record of 
expert judgment on every feature of the particular 
bale, also have the backing of a responsible company 
guaranteeing this record. Such a system of ware- 
houses, with such a receipt, would tremendously 
simplify the purchase by a mill man of cotton in 
warehouse, no matter where located in the cotton- 
growing district. The European spinner by the pur- 
chase of these certificates could become the owner of 
cotton in Memphis with absolute confidence that 
with a certificate in hand he knew more about the 
cotton than if he could see it in Memphis and with 
the further absolute confidence that the responsi- 
bility of the warehouse company insured his getting 
the cotton whenever he wanted it, and yet equally 
insured its safekeeping. By making it feasible for a 
mill man to buy cotton from the owner in warehouses 
outside the mill territory, and by bringing cotton 
into shape where it could be held as an investment 
and the surplus carried over from one season to an- 
other as an investment, speculation would neces- 
sarily have a much narrower field of operations than 
now, and the cotton spinner would have an infinitely 
better situation in respect to buying cotton than he 
has now." 

The Shreveport address attracted national atten- 
tion, and was published extensively by commercial, 
manufacturing, and trade journals. One passage 
in the speech caught the popular fancy, and was 
quoted very generally and extensively by the daily 
and weekly newspapers. This passage was a refer- 
ence to the famine in Egypt caused by "seven years 
of dearth" following "seven years of plenteousness." 


Tompkins applied the Biblical story to the cotton 
situation as follows: 

"If a minimum crop because of weather condi- 
tions precedes a maximum crop because of other 
weather conditions, it makes a famine one year and 
a glut the next. 

"The famine year ruins the cotton manufacturer. 

"The fat year ruins the farmer. 

"In the years past we heard that the cotton 
farmer needed a Moses. The cotton farmer did need 
a Moses. 

"The farmers' Moses has been found. He is the 
cotton factory. What the farmer now needs is a 
Joseph. Listen to what Joseph did : 

"And in the seven plenteous years the earth 
brought forth handfuls. 

"And he gathered up all the food of the seven 
years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up 
the food in the cities; the food of the field, which was 
round about every city, laid he up in the same. 

"And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, 
very much, until he left numbering; for it was with- 
out number. . . . 

"And the seven years of plenteousness that was in 
the land of Egypt were ended. 

"And the seven years of dearth began to come, ac- 
cording as Joseph had said ; and the dearth was in all 
lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 

"And when all the land of Egypt was famished, 
the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh 
said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what 
he saith to you, do. 

"And the famine was over all the face of the earth; 


And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto 
the Egyptians ; and the famine waxed sore in the land 
of Egypt. 

"And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for 
to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in 
all lands. 

"As the development of manufactures was the 
Moses to lead the cotton farmer out of the wilder- 
ness, so the development of commerce must be the 
Joseph who is to average the production of a series 
of years and thereby meet the world's demands and 
steady the price." 

Tompkins had been the manufacturing Moses to 
lead the cotton farmers of the South out of the in- 
dustrial wilderness. His plan for cotton ware- 
houses now showed him to be also a possible Joseph. 
He was in large demand as a speaker on this topic and 
delivered this speech with some changes before the 
National Association of Cotton Manufacturers in 
Atlanta, the Southern Cotton Growers' Association 
in New Orleans, and various other organizations, 
conventions, and associations throughout the South- 
ern States. The address was also published in 
pamphlet form and widely circulated among cotton 
growers, manufacturers, and merchants. 

"At the meeting of the Southern Cotton Growers' 
Association in New Orleans, under the influence of 
Tompkins' speech, a committee was appointed to 
recommend improvements in the existing ware- 
house system. The report of the committee shows 
the hand and the voice of Tompkins. It recom- 
mended: (1) the building of large warehouses in 
commercial centres, to which local warehouses may 
be tributary; (2) the formation of grading and guar- 
antee companies to issue guaranteed receipts on 


cotton in any warehouse adopting proper methods 
and giving proper bonds; (3) the encouragement of 
credits based upon warehouse certificates. 'Upon 
a proper system of warehouses,' says the committee, 
in conclusion, 'depends the future of cotton. A 
perfect system will enable us to solve the problems 
of marketing cotton, to extend our foreign markets 
for cotton goods, and to increase the construction of 
Southern cotton mills. These things are vital to our 
continued prosperity, and none of them can be well 
accomplished until the Southern farmer is enabled 
to house thoroughly and cheaply his cotton while 
waiting the coming of the buyer. Three things 
we intensely need and must have at the earliest time 
possible: (1) warehouses that make absolute pro- 
tection and very low insurance possible; (2) a receipt 
covering goods stored, which clearly describes the 
goods and is of such financial strength as to make as- 
sured its acceptance in all markets; (3) a law which 
applies to warehouse receipts the rules of negotiable 
instruments, and clearly defines the title of the legal 
holder of such receipts.'" 

In a speech written for the "Cotton Conference" 
May 2, 1906, at Washington, D. C, Tompkins shows 
that he had reached a definite conclusion as to the es- 
sential factors in the solution of this problem. 

"The trouble about cotton," said he, "reminds us 
of the former confusion about money when issued 
by the old State banks; or it is like the confusion 
which used to exist in the fertilizer business. The 
remedy for such evils has been found to be examina- 
tion, control, and rei^ulation. I am convinced that 
90 per cent, of the troubles about cotton in commerce 
can be remedied in the same way, viz. : by corporate 
or State examination and control. This means that 


a large and responsible corporation, or the State, 
would undertake the establishment of a bonded 
warehouse system for the custody of cotton; and 
would employ experts to examine, classify, grade, 
and otherwise so exactly define on paper each bale of 
cotton that the certificate would become a better sub- 
ject for trade than the cotton itself. 

"The middleman can take infinite liberties with a 
bale of cotton while it is his property, which he 
could not take with a certificate, standing for a bale 
bonded as to every particular. The first thing a 
farmer would do would be to have his bale of cotton 
certificated by the corporation or State expert. 
The moment it is certificated, it is past being tamp- 
ered with, or misrepresented, by any middleman. 
A book of certificates should be printed once in two 
weeks, or once a month, so that a man in England or 
Germany, with the book in hand, could see how much 
cotton was available, where located, who the owner 
was, address of owner, and then the Manchester 
spinner could buy cotton direct from the farmer. 

"Such a system would tend to eliminate wide 
fluctuations in price. Now, if it is discovered there 
is a big crop, there is no way for surplus capital 
or bank money or trust money to conserve the sur- 
plus. With a system of certificates, which are 
really safer to deal in than the cotton itself, surplus 
money would always take up surplus cotton. Thus 
all the evils at present existing would be corrected 
by the natural tendency of trade and not by arti- 
ficial means. 

"If cotton is gin cut, the inspector and grader 
would state the fact in the certificate, and the 
farmer's indifference to poor ginning would come 
home to him. If cotton is well ginned, the fact is 


stated, and the farmer gets the increased price, which 
the spinner is willing pay. Any excess tare, any bad 
condition of bale, any surplus moisture, any sand 
would be named in the certificate. Thus the faults 
and the merits of bales would reach the farmer and 
the mill man alike. Speculators could not well 
trade in such certificates; at least not to injury of the 
farmer or spinner. 

"The suggestions which I here make relating to 
cotton have already been carried out by each of the 
cotton states in dealing with fertilizers. The 
condition of fertilizers on the market was once as 
bad as cotton is now. Inspection, analysis, and 
control have brought this commodity into excellent 
commercial situation. To do the same with cotton 
involves its custody under bond, as well as its grade 
and certification. 

"Besides advantage to commerce in cotton the 
South would enjoy all the business and income con- 
nected with the warehouse business. The English- 
man buying certificates — perhaps by direct corres- 
pondence with the farmer — would put his certificate 
in the safe, and leave the cotton in the Southern 
bonded warehouse until he needs it. The South 
would thus collect storage from England on cotton 
already bought for English mills. It would be a con- 
venience and economy for England, and nobody 
would lose anything by the arrangement." 

In a subsequent article he sums up the plan as 
follows : 

"The essential features of the cotton warehouse- 
guarantee certificate plan would be: 

"(1) A system of local and central warehouses 

"(2) A corps of inspectors and graders. 

"(3) A certificate giving every detail the ultimate 


buyer or spinner would want to know about the cot- 

"(4) A guarantee company, to stand for the cotton 
and the facts as represented in the certificate. 

"(5) A cotton exchange to handle a standard 
trading certificate, exchangeable for actual ware- 
house or delivery certificate." 

"Under such a system as I propose a cotton ex- 
change properly organized would be the medium 
through which all of this business would naturally 
be done. Such an exchange would be a beneficent 
commercial organization instead of a gambling in- 
stitution. It would contribute to the economy of 
the whole commerce in cotton. The cotton would 
generally first be stored in a local warehouse in mar- 
ket towns under an ordinary warehouse certificate, 
and would in due time naturally progress to a central 
warehouse point where a new certificate, giving grade 
and every detail, would be issued. This certificate 
would be negotiable anywhere in the world and would 
serve as a basis of credit. 

"Such a system would be of immeasurable value 
to the mills, inasmuch as they could then go into the 
market and sell goods as they wanted and then 
cover and hedge through the exchange upon the ac- 
tual cotton that they want or so nearly that it would 
be the equivalent. 

"This system was discussed by me before the 
Shreveport Cotton Convention in 1904. It was 
further discussed by me before the cotton con- 
vention in New Orleans and again in Atlanta. 
Interest is increasing all the time. Throughout the 
South farmers are organizing local warehouses; and 


these will all naturally in time become a part of the 

The system must necessarily be a development and 
the development is now going on." 

The solution of this problem was thus developed 
step by step in the mind of Tompkins. He knew 
that similar development step by step, in longer time 
and with many experiments, would take place in the 
mind and the practice of the business world. He 
never ceased to study the problem, and to give his 
thoughts to the world. A little while before his 
death, as he lay abed a helpless invalid, he wrote to 
the Textile World Record, and added a new idea to his 
previously developed warehouse plan : 

"A proper warehouse system for cotton should 
include warehouses in the principal markets of the 
world for cotton goods, as well as warehouses in 
the cotton belt for raw cotton. This in conjunction 
with the banking system, as large as the new system 
is expected to be, would create and facilitate not only 
for the sale of raw cotton but also for cotton goods. 

". . . If we could have a system of ware- 
houses owned by one or more big corporations and so 
coupled wuth our new banking facilities as to make 
it feasible to carry these goods a reasonable time 
for the mills at one end and the merchants at the 
other, we would tremendously extend our commerce 
in cotton goods abroad, as well as take care of our 
cotton at home. This might involve a federal 
charter and the same sort of federal examination, 
publicity, and control as our national banking system 
is now run under. ... A private corporation 
chartered by the government, like our national banks, 
should be of infinite benefit; and an unbridled cor- 
poration could be of infinite harm." 


This was the last expression by Tompkins on the 
subject. It shows the clear conclusion to which he 
had come; viz., corporate ownership of cotton 
warehouses under government examination, pub- 
licity, and control. 
^ Laws to regulate the ginning, warehousing, and 
marketing of cotton have recently been enacted by 
many of the cotton states. The city of New Orleans 
under laws of the State has constructed and is operat- 
ing public cotton warehouses "with a storage ca- 
pacity of approximately half a million bales" and 
"with negotiable receipts current in financial centres 
throughout the country." This warehouse system 
aims "to enable the port of New Orleans to become a 
deposit market for the cotton supply of the world." 

The State of South Carolina has a law providing 
for a system of cotton warehouses. The State 
Warehouse Commissioner in a circular explaining 
the State law and setting forth the benefits to 
farmers of cotton warehouses concludes with the 
following appeal: 

"The farmers of each community in every cotton- 
producing county in South Carolina should unite in 
building a warehouse; the owner of every ginnery 
should operate a warehouse for the accommodation 
of patrons; every farmer making 100 bales of cotton 
should have a plantation warehouse, or two or more 
farmers should combine in the construction of a 
warehouse with capacity sufficient to store their own 
and their neighbors' cotton. If there were enough 
warehouses in the State Warehouse System to store 
all the cotton grown in the State (about 1,500,000 
bales), the farmers of South Carolina could control 
the marketing of their cotton crops, selling strictly 
on grades and only when prices were satisfactory." 


The United States Government under the U. S. 
Warehouse Act of August 11, 1916, has provided for 
licenses to cotton warehouses which are properly 
constructed, equipped, managed, and bonded; and 
has also made provision to furnish licensed weighers 
and classifiers, who shall classify the cotton ac- 
cording to grade, or otherwise, and certificate the 
same. A circular issued by the Department de- 
clares that: 

"The central purpose of the U. S. Warehouse Act 
. . . is to establish a form of warehouse receipt 
for cotton, grain, wool, tobacco, and flaxseed, which 
will make these receipts easily and widely negotiable 
as delivery orders or as collateral for loans and, 
therefore, of definite assistance in financing crops. 
This purpose the act aims to attain by licensing and 
bonding warehouses under conditions which will in- 
sure the integrity of their receipts and make these 
receipts reliable evidence of the condition, quality, 
quantity, and ownership of the products named 
which may be stored with them." 

The dream of Tompkins may yet be realized. 
Many forces are working for it: cities, states, and the 
United States. He foresaw both the distant goal 
and the long road. With characteristic patience and 
philosophy he applied to the growth of this favorite 
scheme a truth which might comfort other reformers 
and benefactors of mankind: "The system is neces- 
sarily a development," said he, "and the develop- 
ment is now going on." 



LACK of thrift was a great defect in the hf e of the 
Old South and a great obstacle to the building 
-^ of the New South. It was an inheritance from 
slavery not easily gotten rid of. Southern aristo- 
crats, Southern poor whites, and Southern negroes 
all looked down upon Yankee thrift as "unworthy of 
a Southern gentleman." 

Tompkins turned his mind and bent his energies to 
correct this evil. He was thrifty himself by natural 
inclination, by intellectual conviction, and by force of 
education and experience in Northern schools and 
workshops. It was one of his ambitions to promote 
thrift among Southern working men. After careful 
study he decided that the best instrumentality for 
this purpose was building and loan associations. 

The problem was not only to furnish an oppor- 
tunity for investing small savings, but also to supply 
a constant stimulus, which would, in a way, force the 
workmen to save. The ordinary savings bank did 
not offer such stimulus. But the building and loan 
association appealed to love of home, one of the 
strongest passions in the heart of the humblest 
Southerner. It kept constantly before his im- 
agination the picture of a home. It thus incited 
him to save; and it enabled him to save, even with 



small effort. Finally, if he made good, it helped him 
with loans sufficient to build a home. 

Tompkins, when working as a day laborer in the 
Bethlehem Iron Works, had gone through an exten- 
sive experience with building and loan associations. 
This experience was narrated by him whenever 
he advocated them. He knew that personal ex- 
perience appeals more strongly to the average mind 
than mere argument; and so to arouse the interest 
and sympathy of his audiences he would make him- 
self the hero in each building and loan campaign. 

Here is the story, as he told it in a speech at 
States ville, N. C. 

LOAN associations" 

"At the Rensselaer Polytechnic at Troy, New 
York, while I was a student, I got some vacation 
work, and some work during my spare time in college, 
at the steel works in South Troy. I got this work 
through Mr. Alexander Holley, who was then in- 
troducing the Bessemer steel process in the United 
States for Henry Bessemer. The work was chiefly 
tracing drawings for different Bessemer steel works 
he was building. 

"About the time I graduated Mr. Holley moved 
his office to New York, so as to be more accessible 
to the work he was then engineering, and I went 
with him. After a year of work in New York, Mr. 
Holley went to Europe; and I went to Bethlehem, Pa. 

"At Bethlehem I arranged with the chief clerk 
to deposit the contents of my pay envelope in the 
bank each Monday instead of drawing it. The name 
of this clerk was CharHe Prosser. One day I met 


Charlie on the way to the works, and he asked me if 
I didn't want to buy five shares in the building and 
loan association. I had an idea that the building 
and loan institution was some ephemeral 'benefi- 
cent organization.' I had saved a little naoney 
while working for Mr. Holley, and was saving a 
little more at Bethlehem. Prosser told me a member 
named Abe Crider wanted to sell out, and wanted 
to sell a lot along with the building and loan shares. 
I finally told him I would take two building and loan 
shares, and on these I had to pay $1 a month. 

"I soon found that my savings through the 
building and loan at the rate of $2 per month were 
more satisfactory than what I was otherwise sav- 
ing. Prosser would pay the $2 a month for the two 
shares out of my pay, and then the balance of my 
money he would put in the bank, and in one way 
or another I would check it nearly all out. I, 
therefore, resolved to take three more shares in the 
building and loan. These shares were $200 apiece, 
and each share required the payment of $1 a month 
through a period of eleven and a half or twelve years. 
"The money I drew from these five shares made 
$1,000 when they were paid out, and this was the first 
$1,000 capital I ever had. Since then I have been an 
urgent advocate of compulsory savings on the in- 
stallment plan. The engagement for compulsion is 
practically with oneself, because the building and 
loan has no way of compelling payments. 

"Most people have an aversion for entering into 
an engagement to pay so much money a week or a 
month, but the engagement is only compelling 
enough to operate one's conscience, as it were, and 
it is found that a great majority of men will keep such 
an engagement punctiliously to the end. 


"Societies have been formed to promote home 
owning by working people and others, philanthropists 
have interested themselves in such movements, but 
under the very nose of these societies and philanthro- 
pists the American people have become home-owning 
people through and by means of the building and 
loan association. 

"After paying out my first five shares, and getting 
the $1,000 in actual cash, I resolved always to keep in 
the building and loan for as much money as I could 
save weekly or monthly, and I have always done so. 

"The building and loans are to-day much better 
organized and better managed than the old institu- 
tion. They are more uniform and more absolutely 
mutual. They are operated on three conspicuous 
plans to-day. At Charlotte, N. C, the shares are 
$100 each and mature in about six and a half years; 
in Philadelphia the shares are $200 each and mature 
in about eleven and a half years; at Dayton, Ohio, 
the shares are $100 each and mature in about six 
and a half years, but in Dayton they have no series. 
They let a member join at any time and start his 
payments at once. Each man, therefore, becomes a 
series by himself. Many of these Ohio societies 
operate on what is called the * Dayton Plan,' and 
have accumulated some of them as much as 
$1,000,000 assets, and some of them have gone as 
high as $5,000,000. 

"Children may join and pay as little as $1 per 
month, and no training could be better for thrift and 
economy than that of the child having to make a 
weekly or monthly payment in the building and loan. 

"It is certainly enough cheaper than paying rent 
to own a home while the rent money can be made to 
pay for the home; and if maturities were extended to 


fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years, any home might 
be bought for this money which it takes to pay the 

rent. . 

"I built a house at Bethlehem, and was very timid 
about entering into the obligations for the debt. 
The house I built rented for enough money to pay 
the building and loan dues and interest, and I had 
$1 a month left over. 

"Some time ago I was in Bethlehem, and the 
agent who is handling the house for me said: *You 
are not getting over three or four per cent, net out 
of this house; why don't you sell it and invest the 
money down South where you would make a better 
per cent?' I told him that the house didn't cost 
me anything, the tenant paid for it, and being the 
first house I ever built and owned, I could afford to 
keep it as a matter of sentiment. I looked upon it as 
my good-luck house or mascot, as it were, because it 
was the house that got me into the building and loan 
for building purposes as well as saving purposes. 

"Practically all of the apprehensions about a 
building and loan are groundless. If one gets sick, 
the money may be drawn out, and it is so much to 
the good against the sickness. If a workman loses 
his job, he has got something saved against his 
misfortune, and the building and loan will turn it 
over to him promptly upon application. Those who 
have never been into a building and loan think it is 
hard to get your money out if you should want it. 
After being in an association for a while, almost 
any man will conclude that it is almost too easy to 
get out. He would rather an association would hold 
the money a little tighter, and keep him from spend- 
ing it too lightly. 

"The compulsory principle, which is only a sort ot 


constrained conscience to keep up with the rest, is 
found to be one of the best principles in the world to 
enforce upon oneself regular and systematic savings. 
It never becomes irksome, and is like a duty well 
performed, which grows more satisfactory the more 
it is done. The principles ought to be taught in 
the public schools. 

"Already the building and loans have grown to 
such magnitude that their combined assets in the 
United States about equal the capital of the national 
banks. It is the only agency that has been success- 
ful in turning the population of American cities into 
a home-owning population. It is the best sort of 
insurance in the world for securing a home for the 
widow of a man who is dead. No man could leave 
anything better than a good home paid for. 

"The longer the time of the payments, the smaller 
they are. In Charlotte the term of six and a half 
years makes it necessary for the installments to be a 
little more than the rent money. In Philadelphia, 
where the shares are $200 and run eleven and a half 
years, the payments would average probably a little 
less than the rent money. Installment payments 
if extended for long enough time, say fifteen or twenty 
years, would make the installment payments much 
less than the rent money. Therefore it seems to be 
folly to pay rent for years and years when the 
rent money might be applied on the price of a home. 

"The local building and loan associations in 
America have become great institutions, and I 
believe they are destined to become still greater. 
Through them may ultimately be accomplished the 
ownership of homes by all working people, and this 
ownership will be no burden, but will simply be the 
application of the rent to the ownership of the home." 


Wherever a building and loan association was a 
possibility Tompkins was ready to help promote its 
organization. He associated himself in this work 
with S. Wittkowsky of Charlotte, an active, energetic, 
and prudent business man and capitalist, afterward 
president of the North Carolina League of Building 
& Loan Associations. To the joint efforts of Tomp- 
kins and Wittkowsky was due, either directly or in- 
directly, the establishment of most of the building 
and loan associations in the two Carolinas. Tomp- 
kins practically canvassed North and South Carolina 
in this behalf. His speeches were carefully written 
out before delivering, and afterward were given 
to newspapers, thus reaching a multitude of readers 
and serving as potential sermons for economy. The 
following is a specimen, a fine model of brevity, 
clearness, and cogency: 




"Every working man ought to own the house he 
lives in. In many cases the rent he pays is ample to 
pay for the house he is living in in a reasonable time. 
In all cases the rent he pays would more than pay 
for the house he lives in in the average working life. 
In almost any case the rent with very little additional 
money will pay for a house in from six to twelve years. 
The difficulties which stand in the way of a working 
man owning his own house and paying for it with rent 
money are as follows : 

"1. The average man will not put aside a cer- 
tain fixed proportion of his income or wages, except 
under a little coercion or pressure. If he starts in to 


put up an amount of money in the Savings Bank, he 
does not keep it up regularly. 

*'2. He would usually have to save the money 
to pay for a house while yet paying rent money and 
this is too burdensome. 

"The building and loan provides a means by which 
a working man, having saved enough money to buy 
a lot, can then build a house and have the association 
pay for it, and then pay back the debt in install- 
ments exactly like he formerly paid rent, his rent 
money going as part of the installments. It is even 
possible for a working man without any money 
at all to buy a lot on credit and upon the condition 
that the building and loan will put a house upon it, 
taking a first mortgage for the house and the man 
who sold the lot taking a second mortgage on the 
whole property for the lot. Every payment to the 
building and loan reduces the first mortgage and the 
second mortgage is becoming proportionately in 
the position of a first mortgage. When the build- 
ing and loan shall have been paid back, then in a new 
series the building and loan could pay the second 
mortgage off, and then let the owner again pay by 
installments and in the end clear up the whole debt. 
WTiile the building and loan association is particu- 
larly advantageous to the working man, it is a good 
thing for the merchant, the school teacher, the law- 
yer, or preacher and all others who in reality are also 
working people. 

"I know of nothing that builds up a town more 
rapidly than a building and loan association. Next 
to the churches, schools, and the beneficent organiza- 
tions, the building and loan association when properly 
conducted has more influence for good than any other 
organization that I know of. It establishes homes 


for those who are in the habit of thinking they 
cannot afford them. It improves the character of 
the population of any toTvn or city, because it leads 
people to live in their own homes. It raises the hopes, 
the self-respect, and the other better qualities of a 
man. A man being established in his own home 
takes more interest in his neighbors and they take 
more in him. He is more apt to take a hand in 
church work or library work and to send his children 
to school, than if living in a hired house. It adds to 
the wealth and taxable values of a city. 

"Nothing is more important than that the associa- 
tion shall be properly organized. Where the ad- 
vantages are fully understood there is no difficulty 
about this, because when a community once under- 
stands a building and loan it cannot be misled by a 
spurious institution. All loans should be made on 
property within a comparatively narrow and local 
area, say within a mile or within two miles of the 
court house or some central point. 

"For a people to prosper and grow rich is not 
necessarily a matter of money. It is simply a matter 
of turning clay into bricks, of putting the bricks into 
walls to make building, of cutting timber and making 
lumber and of putting the lumber into houses. A 
people who handle very little money may do all these 
things. The building and loan simply provides the 
means by which people may do these things with ex- 
ceedingly little money. The aggregate membership 
pays in one thousand dollars. The money is turned 
over to one member who builds a house and pays for 
it. The money goes into trade and falls back into 
the hands of the members again. It is paid in again, 
and practically the same thousand dollars is turned 
over to another member who builds a house and pays 


for it. The money is again paid out, goes into the 
usual channels of trade, falls back into the hands of 
the original members, and is again paid in — and so on 
indefinitely until perhaps one hundred houses aggre- 
gating in value one hundred thousand dollars have 
been built and paid for with the same one thousand 
dollars and this one thousand dollars has been ac- 
tively circulating in trade all the time. Besides the 
material property accumulated, there is tremendous 
advantage in teaching the possibilities that may 
come of regular savings, and it is seldom that one 
who has had experience in a building and loan associa- 
tion does not also in time become a good depositor 
in the savings banks. The profit made is generally 
about 7 per cent, on the money paid in, but if there 
was no profit, it would still be advantageous be- 
cause usually the whole aggregate sum saved would 
not have been saved at all except by the regular 
payments into the building and loan." 

To establish a building and loan association in his 
native town of Edgefield was a work of joy with 
Tompkins. His heart and his head were given to it. 
Here, as elsewhere, his labors in this field were en- 
tirely gratuitous and humanitarian. The following 
announcement of the Edgefield B. & L. Association 
shows his power of clear-cut statement, his desire to 
stimulate thrift and business habits, his strong, sen- 
sible humanitarianism, based upon confidence in 
human nature and desire to develop character 
through self-reliance and self-help. 

"home money for home people" 

"The Edgefield Building & Loan Association has 
money to loan to its members. It invites working 


people to become members. It is a savings in- 
stitution as well as the working man's bank. While 
some kind of property security is required in all 
cases to make a loan perfectly safe, yet the real 
basis of credit is the borrower's labor — his willing- 
ness to work and the known fact that he is an ener- 
getic worker. By work and the income from work 
the association will get back all the money it loans a 
working man. It will not loan on property with any 
prospect of having to take the property. 

"The working man may be a carpenter, lawyer, 
farmer, merchant, spinner, bricklayer, doctor, weaver, 
or any other working man who is energetic and active 
and earns wages, fees, or other compensations as the 
result of his labor. 

"The association will require all its members to 
pay exactly as they agree to pay. It has been the 
habit in the South for the borrower to consider that 
the bank or other loaner of money could notify the 
borrower when a note or other debt was due. If it 
wasn't convenient to pay it when due, then some 
other day later would do as well. Good credit means 
prompt payment at maturity. The association will 
require its members to make all payments as agreed 
and without notice and without being dunned in any 

"This is not done for the benefit of the association 
but for the benefit of its members. The first lesson 
looking to success is the volunteer prompt pay- 
ment of debts, and the association will teach this 

"This does not mean that the association will be 
relentless when a man can't pay. It means that the 
man must not ignore the fact that his promise 
was matured and he must either pay at maturity 


or voluntarily call on the treasurer and make some 
arrangement or be fined for delinquency. 

"The association can arrange for farmers to repay 
loans in annual installments in three payments in 
the fall, viz.: September 15th, October 15th, and 
November 15th. Mechanics working for wages pay 
by the week or month. The payments are made 
suitable to all classes of working people. 

"This is a local or home institution. It is to be 
managed at home and all the money will be loaned 
at home. None can be loaned outside of Edgefield 
County. Instead of sending away to borrow money 
from land loan companies or from foreign building 
and loan associations, with a lot of discounts, this 
home institution will accumulate the savings of 
home people and loan these accumulations to home 

The home building and loan association has been 
successful in all parts of the United States. Its 
workings when in the hands of competent and honest 
home people and when all loans are confined to 
home people have always been profitable and advan- 

" This association runs two series of shares or mem- 
berships each year. One commences January 1st and 
one July 1st. Any one wishing to join may do so at 
any time by paying the back dues to either of the 
above periods. 

"The shares are $100 each. The dues are $1.00 
per month for each share. In seven years or less 
the shares mature. Therefore, when a member 
subscribes for one share and pays one dollar per 
month for seven years (or less perhaps) he draws 
out $100. Five dollars per month for the same 
period would make $500. 


"Meantime money may be borrowed at any time 
on proper security and then interest would be paid 
in addition to the dues. 

"The association is the best sort of savings in- 
stitution known in the world. It is also the best 
place in the world for a working man to borrow 
money. He can pay it back by installments. 

"The asscoiation invites those who have energy 
and mean to make a success of life to become mem- 

"Nothing stimulates or brightens a young man up 
so much as to assume a little responsibility for the 
purpose of getting a start toward getting ahead in 
the world. 

"In Pennsylvania and other parts of the United 
States where home building and loan associations 
have prospered for a long time many a leading rich 
man got his first $100, $200, $500, or $1,000 out of 
the building and loan association." 

The interest of Tompkins in B. &. L. Associations 
was not confined to the South. In their behalf he 
wrote many articles to Northern magazines and 
papers, and made addresses before various national 

An article in Cassier's Magazine, March, 1903, 
entitled "Working People's Homes", was copied 
and quoted extensively by newspapers and weekly 
journals throughout the country. The article is a 
complete summary of the advantages of building 
and loan associations; its closing paragraphs are 
worthy of Franklin: 

" There is no help for working people that compares 
with the help they provide for themselves. Munifi- 
cent philanthropy is as nothing compared with a 
morsel of self-help. The one may be fruitless or even 


injurious; the other is always strengthening and 

"Working people have far more resource and abil- 
ity to pay their own way, and to pay for what they 
get, than is generally supposed. Indeed, most of 
them pay extravagantly for what they get. In 
many cases they pay enough rent for a cheap and 
uncomfortable house to pay, in a very few years, for 
a good, comfortable house, and own it in fee simple. 
It is the opportunity to do this latter thing, rather 
than financial help, that they need — even if the help 
is called philanthropic or semi-philanthropic. The 
greatest mistake of the philanthropist is usually 
judging others by his own tastes or ideas. He too 
frequently fails to give either support or sympathy 
to what the working man wants to do, but he insists 
that the working man shall do as the philanthropist 
wants him to do. 

"Laws and conditions that place opportunity 
within the reach of the working man himself, and for 
himself, do more good for his advancement than all 
actual contributions in money or advice that could 
possibly be made. All humanity can be brought 
to lose courage and heart by being given no chance. 
There are so many ways by which working people 
are cheated out of, or otherwise deprived of, savings, 
that many a one is brought to feel that he had rather 
squander his surplus earnings than put them where 
he might likely lose them for the advantage of some- 
body else. With a knowledge, however, that what 
is saved is safe for himself the workingman becomes 
a capitalist. 

"It is rare that a working man needs charity or any 
kind of free help. Make for him a fair opportunity 
and good security for his savings, show him the op- 


portunities, convince him that they are safe, then 
give him friendly encouragement, and the chances are 
he will succeed. But to do so he must be left perfect 
freedom to undertake something according to his 
own tastes, and not be pressed into doing something 
that somebody else thinks he ought to do. Good 
advice is all right, but it is all wrong to press on the 
working man methods of spending his earnings and 
savings that are contrary to his tastes and what he 
considers his requirements. 

"Good philanthropy for the working man is, more 
than all else, opportunity and freedom." 

A series of articles in the Manufacturers' Record, 
beginning August 25, 1904, entitled, "Building and 
Loan Associations: The Means of Cooperative Sav- 
ings by Southern Working People", discussed all 
phases of the subject, both American and foreign. 
This article was copied and quoted extensively, 
reaching practically the entire South, and exerting a 
great influence in promoting thrift and economy. 
Southern newspapers everywhere called for buildin^^ 
and loan associations; and Tompkins was in constant 
demand as a speaker on this subject. His presence 
rarely failed to secure an association, and in many 
places his name was sufficient. 

It was characteristic of Tompkins to follow an idea 
to its logical conclusion, to incorporate a good prin- 
ciple into as many instrumentalities as possible. The 
principle of self-help and cooperation, of self-help 
through cooperation, and of cooperation through self- 
help was the darling of his mind. He had put this 
principle to work among Southern laboring people 
in cities and towns through the agency of building 
and loan associations; now he aimed to do the same 
work for rural laborers through rural credit societies, 


or land loan banks. The following article is a sample 
of his writing on this subject: 


*'The European agricultural credit system is ex- 
actly the same thing as our building and loan associa- 
tions with payments made to suit the marketing of 
the crops. 

"Our building and loan system has succeeded 
without government aid or appropriation. So also 
the land loan banks for farmers' credit societies 
of Europe have succeeded without government aid or 
appropriation. Self-help is the main feature of our 
building and loan associations, or mechanics' co- 
operative banks, and so is self-help the main feature 
of the European land credits. 

"There is absolutely nothing to keep any com- 
munity in this country from organizing a land credit 
society similar to those in Europe and without gov- 
ernment aid or any special legislation. If these ever 
become rich as they are in Europe, and as our build- 
ing and loans are in this country, they will need some 
State or Federal regulation. But to start with, there 
is nothing necessary except to form a society and 
commence the installment payments. It has often 
been pointed out that these installment payments 
should correspond with the marketing of the crops. 
The politicians had nothing to do with the starting 
of the Eurbpean farmers' credit system. Neither 
did they have to do with the starting of the American 
building and loan associations. All talk of the Gov- 
ernment furnishing money for these is in error. The 
Government should furnish no money. It does 
not do it in the case of the building and loan associa- 


tions, and these would have been ruined if it had done 

"The plan of forming these land loan banks is 
precisely the same as that of forming the building 
and loan association. A certain number of farmers 
subscribe to shares in the land loan bank. There 
is to be paid on each share one hundred dollars, par 
value, twelve dollars per year, in such installments 
as may be determined by the board of directors. 
In a cotton-growing country this would naturally 
be in about four installments of three dollars each, 
on the first of October, November, December, and 
January. Each subscriber paying in these install- 
ments puts the bank in a position to make one or two 
or more good loans to farmer members of the society. 
Borrowers, of course, pay interest on the money they 
borrow. The shares would mature in a time some- 
thing between six and seven years. Those who had 
not borrowed at all would get the cash at the end 
of the term; those who did borrow would get the 
debt cancelled at the end of the term. Thus the 
farmer becomes his own banker and a very successful 
one in Germany he is. Formerly these land loan 
banks of Germany borrowed money to loan to their 
members. Some of them do so still, but the great 
majority of them now have surplus money which 
they loan to the city bankers. Perhaps no set of 
farmers in the world are better fixed to do their own 
banking in this way than the Southern cotton pro- 

For ten years or more, in the Charlotte Observer 
and other papers, he hammered out this idea, educat- 
ing the public mind to an appreciation of its import- 
ance. "During a period of more than ten years, 
this paper has been agitating the subject of install- 


merit savings and loan associations, and incidentally 
has referred frequently to the existence in Europe 
of land loan banks as being exactly the same thing 
as our building and loan except that the installment 
payments are made to suit the maturing of the crops 
instead of to suit monthly or weekly wages. It is 
very gratifying to note that this subject has been 
lately taken up by President Taft, and was one of 
the matters of interest in the late governors' con- 
ference at Richmond. These land loan banks 
have been as successful in Europe for the farmer as 
the local building and loan association has been in 
the United States and England for the industrial 

Tompkins was thus forerunner and herald of the 
"Federal Farm Loan Act," which provides a system 
for lending money on farm lands at reasonable in- 
terest for relatively long periods. It provides for 
the creation of twelve Federal land banks and per- 
mits the establishment of any number of joint stock 
land banks. Its primary purpose is to promote 
agricultural prosperity by enabling farmers to borrow 
money on farm mortgage security. This x\ct, pop- 
ularly called the Rural Credits Law, became a law 
July 17, 1916. 

A further application of the principle of self-help 
through cooperation was now made in the life insur- 
ance policies of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, 
of which Tompkins was at the time an active and 
influential director. It is known as the Home Pur- 
chase Plan. Under this plan loans are made by the 
society to its policy-holders, secured by mortgage 
on the home, and paid in monthly installments for a 
period of ten, in some cases fifteen, years. In case 
of death the insurance pays off the loan. "Mr. 


Tompkins was a member of the original Committee 
of the Board of Directors appointed by Paul Morton 
because of his keen interest in and advocacy of this 
plan when it was first broached, based upon his close 
association with the building and loan associations 
of Charlotte/' said Henry L. Rosenfeld, second 
vice-president of the Equitable Society. "He pre- 
pared a pamphlet on the Home Acquiring Plan of 
the Equitable which was quite helpful to us, and 
contributed very materially to the conversion of 
some of his fellow directors at that time to the 
plan. The writer personally having had charge of 
the matter desires to bear testimony to the co- 
operation and valuable assistance rendered by our 
late friend, Mr. Tompkins, in the furtherance of 
this idea." 

In promoting building and loan associations, in 
advocating farm banks, in helping to inaugurate 
the Equitable Home Purchase Plan of Life Insurance 
Tompkins was animated by an intense philanthropic 
desire to benefit humanity by providing, as far as 
possible, a comfortable home for every American 

"That country," said he, "is always the most 
prosperous whose work people have the best home 
life. Home life conduces to the highest wages, the 
best education and training, and the greatest pros- 
perity of a nation and of all its people. 

" The mechanic who builds a home, sends his chil- 
dren to school, and otherwise identifies himself with 
a community of good people, has an important 
advantage over the one who comes to-day and may 
go to-morrow. He becomes a citizen, a neighbor, 
a friend, where, before, even though a good mechanic, 
and well thought of, he had no particular standing 


in any community. His better situation makes 
better opportunities for his children. Identification 
with a community and its people always makes a 
better condition for any family. The home and 
the binding of the family to the community are 
largely the basis of Anglo-Saxon strength and Anglo- 
Saxon civilization." 



WITH unceasing activity Tompkins per- 
formed his great work as builder of mills, 
colleges, and newspapers, as author of indus- 
trial books, as builder and distributor of industrial 
machinery. His versatility, powers of concentra- 
tion, and retentive memory enabled him to carry on 
simultaneously very many diverse and widely sepa- 
rated enterprises. Like the perfect chess player, 
who plays at one time a dozen different games with 
a dozen adversaries, Tompkins carried on simultane- 
ously in many Southern states a score of industrial 
enterprises. His larger activities covered the entire 
South, not only as promoter and builder but as 
writer, orator, teacher, preacher, and apostle of in- 

His minor activities, extending in many directions, 
were chiefly in the two Carolinas. No forward move- 
ment of magnitude or promise during his lifetime 
in these two states escaped his sympathetic attention. 
Industrial enterprises, educational reforms and im- 
provements, plans and organizations for promoting 
thrift and economy, schools, hospitals, parks, sanita- 
tion, all movements and instrumentalities for human 
betterment received his constant attention and, if 
deserving, his endorsement and helpful cooperation. 
He kept in the field for the Charlotte Observer a 
regular reporter of industrial movements ; and special 



reporters were sent to write up newly organized 
industrial enterprises and industrial celebrations. 
Industrial experts, or promoters, from other states, 
if working or visiting in the Carolinas, wene sought 
out and interviewed; and their views on industrial 
matters were given prominence in all departments 
of his papers. His three papers were daily preachers 
of thrift and industrial progress. News columns, 
reporters' columns, and editorial columns gave con- 
stant and never-ending emphasis to industrial move- 
ments and enterprises. 

Tompkins himself would go at his own expense 
and frequently at much inconvenience to a distant 
community to promote an industrial enterprise. 
He would promote it not only by clear-cut facts and 
figures but also by stirring appeals to local feeling 
and Southern pride. Having aroused public senti- 
ment to the point of action, he would assist in effect- 
ing the necessary organization, draw the engineering 
plans for the proposed industrial establishment, and, 
if occasion required, subscribe for stock in amount 
sufficient to start the enterprise. It came to be 
understood in the two Carolinas that Tompkins* 
experience, engineering skill, and financial help were 
available for any meritorious industrial enterprise 
that needed assistance to set it going. 

His speeches and pamphlets on good roads, broad 
tires, road building and repairs, farm and factory, 
cottonseed and its products, beef and dairy cattle, 
trade schools, early education, building and loan 
associations, and similar subjects were scattered 
broadcast, and produced throughout the Carolinas 
a pregnant spirit of progress and a harvest of in- 
dustrial establishments. 

His work in Charlotte, as builder and promoter of 


industrial establishments, as manufacturer and dis- 
tributor of cotton mill machinery, as builder and con- 
troller of independent and industrial newspapers, as 
promoter of building and loan associations, gave the 
little city a power and a fame possessed by no city 
of its size in the entire South. The Atherton Cotton 
Mills, the D. A. Tompkins Co.'s machine shops and 
foundry, the Charlotte Observer and the Evening 
Chronicle were institutions worthy of a large city. 
His administration of these establishments was on a 
high plane of efficiency and public spirit; progressive, 
broad -gauged, full of hopefulness and enthusiasm. 
They set the tune for the little city. The Tompkins 
illuminated tower stood out above the city, and 
marked it for miles, especially at night, with its 
brilliant electric lights shining like a constellation of 
hope and typifying the spirit of industry and cheerful- 
ness that animated its workers. The same spirit was 
imparted by Tompkins to a score of industrial enter- 
prises in which he was director or stockholder. His 
spirit was contagious. Under his direction in his 
various industrial establishments were trained many 
young men whose successful careers in Charlotte 
and elsewhere testify not only to his fine business 
methods but also to his far-reaching work as an in- 
dustrial trainer and educator. His industrial method 
and ideals were thus extended very widely through- 
out the Carolinas. 

His newspapers, while tireless advocates of in- 
dustrial progress, were no less zealous and efficient 
in promoting civic development. They stood in the 
front rank of many battles for reform and improve- 
ment. They carried the flag of progress. They 
fought not for partisan triumph but for human 
betterment. Philanthropy, not politics, was their 


aim. Day by day they made clarion calls for prog- 
ress and improvement, sounding amid the fog of 
political partisanship the clear note of reason and 
patriotism. The following is one of a thousand calls 
made during twenty years by Tompkins' papers: 


"1 — Improved educational facilities in the entire 
city and a school building in the Fourth Ward. 

"2 — Clean streets and the breaking up of loafing 
crowds on the streets. 

"3 — The enforcement of measures for temperance 
to the full limit without becoming sumptuary. 

"4 — Fostering the city's commercial and manu- 
facturing interests. 

"5 — The execution of exact justice, tempered with 
a judicial mercy, but without harassing the unfor- 
tunate with prosecutions about little things or tolerat- 
ing neglect by and incompetence of oflScers of the 
law in larger things. 

"6 — Advancing the interests of skilled and other 
labor, as well as conserving vested interests, without 
using the people's tax money to improve private 

Tompkins was often urged to become Mayor of 
Charlotte, but steadily refused. It was a political 
oflBce, won by political campaigns and held by po- 
litical manipulation. He could not work in political 
harness. But he worked to build up Charlotte; 
worked longer, more zealously, and more efiiciently 
than all its mayors and politicians combined. He 
was a model of thrift and industry to the entire city. 
He constantly preached thrift and industry to the 
working men of Charlotte, and urged upon them the 


vital importance of owning their own homes. His 
writings and speeches on this subject would fill 
many volumes. His labors were fruitful. He lived 
to see Charlotte a city of homes, unsurpassed by 
few manufacturing cities in the United States in the 
percentage of hand-workmen owning their own homes. 
It was one of Tompkins' ideals that every family 
should live in its own home. He pursued this ideal, 
and promoted it, in the spirit of true philanthropy, 
humanitarianism and patriotism. 

Charlotte's schools and hospitals, its public libra- 
ries, the Young Men's Christian Association, Young 
Women's Christian Association, public parks and 
buildings, railway connections and accommodations, 
waterworks and sewerage, sanitation and health, 
were objects of his constant and sympathetic con- 
sideration. He would praise, criticise, or condemn, 
as the case required. As chairman of the city "Tree 
and Park Commission" he secured a skilled landscape 
gardener of national repute to lay out a scheme of 
improvements. As assistant architect and builder 
and one of its chief promoters and stockholders he 
secured for the city its handsome modern sanatorium. 
His views were broad and progressive. He had seen 
what was best in Europe and America; and he de- 
sired for Charlotte only what was worthy. 

For Charlotte Tompkins was an organizer and 
builder not only of material but also of spiritual 
forces. He knew that self-sacrifice, service, and social 
spirit are essential to a city's growth, no less than 
toil, thrift, and enterprise. In an address before the 
Greater Charlotte Club he emphasized this idea. 
"It used to be thought," said he, "that great cities 
grow only on the water. This was because of the 
natural situation favorable to cheap transit. It 


is not the harbors which have made cities on the 
coast, but the coming and going of the commercial 
people of the world. The ocean and the harbor 
make facilities for free commercial intercourse. It 
is known the world over that coast cities are more 
liberal in social and commercial intercourse than 
those which are not in the tide of commerce. There- 
fore, we may see that the points of contact with 
the big world is where the greatest liberality develops, 
is where the cosmopolitan ideas take root, is where 
the social and commercial intercourse is freest and 
most liberal, and where industrial and commercial 
development is greatest. The development of the 
useful sciences is parallel with that of manufactures 
and commerce. Following these come literature, 
art, and all the concomitants of higher civilization, 
provided there is an underlying foundation of Chris- 
tian principles. 

**At Charlotte we are neither upon the ocean nor 
upon any stream of water. But we are upon lines 
of railroad, which makes it possible for us to have as 
close elbow touch with the big world as though we 
were on the ocean itself. With railways as an arti- 
ficial means of commerce the old handicap of an 
inland city is gone. Not only is the old handicap 
gone, but the advantage of a model climate to 
live in and the power in the mountain stream become 
incalculable advantages. It required constant exer- 
tion, large investments of money, and the cultivation 
of a personal and commercial intercourse to secure 
for Charlotte her railway connections. It was the 
cosmopolitan spirit of the last generation and their 
investments in railroads which made a city here. 
These means of transportation did not come unsought 
nor without a hospitable welcome. 


**This club should keep it in mind that it requires 
but little effort to make an atmosphere in which so- 
cial and commercial intercourse may be enlarged 
and made more liberal. To create this atmosphere 
of liberality and hospitality requires the same ex- 
ertion that was made by former generations to pro- 
cure the building of the railroads. A tendency of a 
club of congenial spirits is naturally toward having 
things comfortable for themselves, and this tendency 
may continue until the atmosphere becomes inhos- 
pitable to the stranger, and fosters a sort of selfish 
seclusion. Charlotte's railroads were not secured 
without self-sacrifice and the investment of money. 
A large social and commercial intercourse with the 
outside world is always difficult to get without self- 
sacrifice and without money. An association of gen- 
tlemen ought always to be willing to put themselves 
out in order to make the city a hospitable haven 
for the great tide of the travelling public. If this 
be done and be constantly kept up, the city will al- 
ways have an atmosphere of liberality and hospi- 
tality which will w^in the stranger, and in turn win 
the coming and going commerce, and in turn build 
itself to be a Greater Charlotte in fact as well as in 

At industrial or educational celebrations in Char- 
lotte he was in demand as a speaker — not as a spread- 
eagle orator, but as a fountain of new ideas, an in- 
spirer of new activities, a teacher, preacher, and pro- 
moter of industrial enterprises and virtues. His 
addresses were carefully prepared and full of thought; 
instructive, inspiring, and worthy to be read many 
times. They were usually published in pamphlet 
form, as well as in the press; and were carefully 
preserved in business offices and private libraries. 


Notable addresses by him were those before the 
Manual Training Department of the Charlotte High 
School, before the trained nurses of the Presbyterian 
Hospital, before the Young Women's Christian Asso- 
ciation, before the Charlotte night schools, and at the 
opening of the Carnegie Public Library. He was 
always ready to cooperate, or to lead, in reform- 
ing an old institution, or inaugurating a new enter- 

A notable service to Charlotte was his work in 
helping to organize and develop the Manufacturers' 
Club. He made this club a very potent instrumen- 
tality for the advertising and upbuilding of Char- 
lotte and the Piedmont section. Under his guidance 
the club became a commercial salon, a hospitable 
Southern home for business men of large denomina- 
tion, an informal exchange and clearing house of busi- 
ness propositions. "Our club," said he in his annual 
address as president, "is unique, in that it is in a 
degree a commercial exchange. I regard it as ex- 
ceedingly important to maintain this character of 
the club. Any day within the club cloth and yarn 
may be sold. Contracts may be made for a cotton 
mill or an oil mill or for cotton; and it is these facili- 
ties that hold our non-resident membership and 
much of our local memxbership. The wishes and 
convenience of our non-resident members ought 
always to be deferred to, as a good host does to guests 
in a private house. I recommend that the word 
Southern be dropped from the club's name; first, 
because it is little used, and second, it in a degree 
provincializes the club. The best loyalty to the 
South is to cosmopolitanize our institutions." 

Animated by this spirit the Charlotte Manufac- 
turers' Club was the host of leading American states- 


men and business magnates, who were thus informed 
concerning Southern resources and business possibili- 
ties, and were warmly enlisted in the cause of South- 
ern development. Acquaintances here formed rip- 
ened into friendships, and produced results of large 
importance. Among the prominent guests of the 
club were President Taft and the Chinese Minister 
'Wu Ting Fang. For years Tompkins kept up his 
friendship and correspondence with Minister W^u, 
and endeavored by this means to promote Southern 
trade in China. 

With characteristic zeal and public spirit Tompkins 
sought to extend to other cities the ideas of the Char- 
lotte Manufacturers' Club. In a letter to the Manu- 
facturers' Record, June 28, 1901, he wrote as follows: 
"It has occurred to me that the Manufacturers' 
Club here is just such an organization as every town 
in the South needs. There are a great many busi- 
ness men's leagues, commercial clubs, chambers of 
commerce, and boards of trade, none of which ac- 
complish the purposes for which they are intended. 
The diflBculty seems to be that these organizations 
rarely get together, except at some regular meeting, 
or when specially called together to consider some 
proposition. Almost any business proposition, when 
brought up before a miscellaneous organization, 
comes to no good end. Our Manufacturers' Club 
here is organized upon a plan where the social fea- 
ture keeps the organization together, and makes a 
reason for frequent and constant visits by the mem- 
bers to the club building. The club never consid- 
ers at any meeting a proposition to build a factory 
or actually to do any material thing. Therefore, the 
club is never called upon to decide for or against 
anybody's purpose or proposition. \^Tiat the club 


does is to furnish a perfect atmosphere and all the 
surroundings necessary for any man to get a hearing 
from each individual of the best business element in 
Charlotte. In this way any man can quietly try 
his hand at getting up a new factory; and any 
stranger can through the club get access to the busi- 
ness element in Charlotte. In this way we get three 
or four times as many new enterprises as could be 
gotten if the propositions were formally brought up 
before an ordinary business men's meeting or board 
of trade. The general officers of the Southern Rail- 
road cheerfully come to our club, cheerfully listen 
to suggestions from individual members about freight 
rates and other transportation facilities, and are glad 
of the opportunity. There is nothing published, 
and nothing has to be done immediately. Proposi- 
tions discussed before a chamber of commerce would 
have to be formally answered. Discussions at the 
Manufacturers' Club require no formal answer." 

From the time that Tompkins entered Charlotte 
in 1882, equipped only with a stout heart and a kit 
of tools, to the close of his life in 1914 as one of the 
largest capitalists and the foremost industrial pro- 
moter of the city, he was a potent force in advancing 
its intellectual development, its educational and 
philanthropic institutions, its health, prosperity, and 
happiness. "Have you seen D. A. Tompkins.^" was 
the first remark of R. M. Miller, Sr., in 1882 to the 
editor of the Manufacturers^ Record, who was visiting 
Charlotte. "He is a wonderful man. You may 
look for big things from him." Twenty years later 
the Augusta Chronicle noted the passing of Tompkins 
through that city: *'D. A. Tompkins of Charlotte 
was in the city yesterday, en route to New Orleans, 
to address the Southern Cotton Convention. He is 


the man that put Charlotte on the map for cotton 
mill machinery. Tompkins is Charlotte." 

Charlotte was little more than a village when 
Tompkins came to it. It is now a busy, bustling, 
thriving city of approximately fifty thousand popu- 
lation. Within a radius of fifty miles live four 
hundred and fifty thousand people. 

The city has one hundred and forty-two manu- 
facturing plants. It is the centre of the Southern 
cotton mills section, having four hundred mills 
within a radius of one hundred miles whose opera- 
tives number eighty thousand, and whose annual 
pay roll is thirty million dollars. Charlotte is the 
centre of the biggest hydro-electrical development in 
the United States, furnishing current over two 
thousand miles of high-powered transmission wires 
to more than one hundred towns and cities. It has 
nine banks and trust companies and four building and 
loan associations with sixty-two thousand shares in 
force. More citizens of Charlotte own the homes 
in which they live than in any other city of its size 
in the United States. With the exception of one 
other city, the death rate is lower in Charlotte than 
in any other city in the nation. 

"It would not be proper and correct to say that 
Tompkins and his efforts made Charlotte a city, but 
he started those things, by acts and writings, which 
commercially put Charlotte on the map of the coun- 
try. He was an advanced thinker and builder, 
a civil engineer by profession, but by nature and 
intellect a master of details, a student of causes and 
effects, all of which he studied with a decision and a 
precision and accuracy as if using his compass and 
rule and chain." The Uplift, May, 1914. 

It was not by accident that Tompkins selected 


Charlotte as his home and the centre of his industrial 
and philanthropic activities. He studied out and 
comprehended the possibilities of Charlotte, and 
selected it as his residence after a careful survey of the 
entire South. "The Piedmont region," said he in an 
address on Charlotte and her future, "seems to be 
the centre of the new industrial South. The city 
of Charlotte is the centre of the Piedmont region; 
and the new conditions are most emphasized in the 
matter of Charlotte's growth. If, as has been done 
in the past, Charlotte is initiative and progressive 
in the development of the resources of the surround- 
ing country, if she continue friendly to her neighbors 
and interested in their developments, there is no 
reason that we should not have a city here such as 
never before has been built in the South Atlantic 
States. We have a situation most favorable for 
the building of a city, being one day's ride from 
Atlanta, one from Richmond, one from Washington. 
There ought to be a commercial centre for the great 
Piedmont manufacturing section, and Charlotte 
ought to be that commercial centre." 

Charlotte will some day realize the dream of 
Tompkins. He loved the city, and freely gave forth 
his life's energies in building up not only its indus- 
tries but its intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic life. 
"Though occupied with the sterner things of business 
and commerce and industrial development," said 
The Uplift in May, 1914, "he always found time 
to interest himself in things that touched the higher 
side of human endeavor. Hospitals, Young Men's 
and Young Women's Christian Associations, schools, 
colleges, charitable and philanthropic institutions 
all have profited by his recognition." His mind 
swept the gamut of human activities, from cotton 


mills to flower beds. "Plant flowers and sow grass/* 
he would reiterate in the Daily Observer. "It doesn't 
require much work to produce a little grass and grow 
a few flowers in a front yard ; and when all the front 
yards in a city have green grass and flowers, it does 
make such a tremendous difference in the appear- 
ance of the whole city. In such a town or city life 
is far more worth the living than it can ever be in a 
dilapidated, flowerless city. And don't forget the 
back yard. Clean it up, and plant a few pleasant 
green shrubs or vines." Handsome donations were 
made by Tompkins in his will to most of the philan- 
thropic and charitable institutions of the city: the 
Presbyterian Hospital, St. Peter's Hospital, the Good 
Samaritan, the Carnegie Library, the Young Men's 
Christian Association, and the Young Women's 
Christian Association. 

Tompkins loved Charlotte because Charlotte 
typified himself. 

His activities in Edgefield were as generous and 
public spirited as in Charlotte. Edgefield was 
the darling of his heart; for it was his birthplace and 
the home of his parents, and around it clustered the 
memories of his childhood and the dreams of his 
youth. Edgefield had formerly been a notable cen- 
tre of social, intellectual, and political influence, 
famed for wealth, culture, and whole-souled hospi- 
tality. The Civil War and reconstruction had dealt 
it a heavy blow. When Tompkins in 1876 returned 
from Bethlehem to Edgefield, to take part in the 
South Carolina pohtical revolution under the leader- 
ship of General Wade Hampton and General M. C. 
Butler, he found everywhere marks of poverty and 
decay. In a letter to his fiancee, November 2, 1876, 
he says, "Dilapidation certainly prevails every- 


where. This morning I found a very large house on 
the outskirts of the town that was once very hand- 
some, but now it is actually falling down. The old 
schoolhouse I used to go to is without a floor, and 
the grove is used for a Yankee garrison. Every 
mark of prosperity is gone from the town. The little 
bridges that used to be here over the brooks are gone. 
But the spirit of Southern life is still left; for last 
night the young men of the place hired a band and 
had them play under the windows of the young 

"Politics is all the talk and excitement. To-day 
a lady told me if the white people succeeded, her hus- 
band would go crazy over the result, and if they 
failed, he would go crazy also. I will be here until 
after the election next Tuesday. The Federal 
soldiers have been sent in squads to the different 
voting precincts. Only three companies are left 
here. Everything is quiet and will remain so." 

"Nov. 6th. The election passed off quietly. 
The whites won. I was glad to help." 

He modestly omitted to tell how his help had car- 
ried the day. "He was busy all day going from vot- 
ing place to voting place," says Mrs. Ella Smyly 
Tompkins. " His life in the North and his knowledge 
of Northern people gave him a sort of hold on the 
Yankee officers, who listened to his appeals and 
through him got into sympathy with Southern white 
people. He persuaded these officers to let the whites 
and the negroes vote alternately, thus giving the 
whites an advantage; for the polls closed before all 
the blacks could vote, and reduced to nothing the 
customary big black majority in Edgefield County. 
After the election the citizens came to our house 
to serenade him, and took him on their shoulders 


and carried him in triumph all over the town. It 
was a happy and a proud day for him and for Edge- 

His love for Edgefield and his interest in its devel- 
opment continued throughout his life. To advance 
its industrial growth he built and operated there a 
cotton mill and cotton oil mill and refinery, thus 
giving employment to its youth and inviting other 
industries. To encourage thrift and economy and 
promote home building and home owning by work- 
ing people he helped to organize a building and loan 
association. To develop education he constantly 
advocated by speeches, by newspaper articles, by 
pamphlets, and by personal appeals every instru- 
mentality for school improvements : better buildings, 
more competent teachers, longer school terms, and 
adequate school equipment, all to be secured and 
supported by more liberal taxation. His efforts 
resulted in a well-equipped public graded school. 
The handsome high school building he designed 
and constructed. In his will he made donations of 
several thousand dollars to the Edgefield Free Li- 
brary and for the promotion of manual training in 
the Edgefield high school. Through his efforts 
the movement to erect the Confederate Monument 
was rendered successful, and by his help the first 
bank building was constructed. He erected many 
nice buildings in town; and always favored liberal 
taxation for public buildings and public purposes, 
although he was one of the largest taxpayers in the 
town. Besides paying taxes freely and liberally, he 
was a constant, sympathetic, and liberal subscriber to 
enterprises affecting the prosperity of Edgefield. 

As Edgefield was a country town, its prosperity 
depended very largely on good roads. To this mat- 


ter Tompkins gave earnest and constant attention. 
Speeches, pamphlets, and newspaper articles were 
used with unremitting zeal and persistency to edu- 
cate the public mind and arouse the public interest 
in good roads. The prevailing mania for politics 
was keenly ridiculed and denounced. The necessity 
for good roads was his daily sermon for Edgefield 
through many years. Here is one of his clear-cut 
appeals : 


"Nothing could be more important to the welfare 
of Edgefield County than the education of its children 
and youths. But there can be no efficient system of 
schools in a community where in bad weather 
the children cannot walk to school without getting 
bedraggled with mud. Some teachers attest and 
none deny that many a day in winter the roads in 
Edgefield County are too bad for a child to walk to 
school. A fair macadam road would correct this 
difficulty as well as serve for marketing farm prod- 
ucts and hauling supplies back home. It would 
serve both for school attendance and for social and 
commercial intercourse. 

"Bad roads entail the following losses: 

" (1) They impair school facilities by their im- 
passability for school children in the muddy and 
rainy season. 

" (2) They make prisoners of the farmers' wives 
and families during the winter months. 

" (3) They prevent church attendance, and this 
hinders the progress of Christian civilization. 

" (4) They destroy more live stock and vehicles in 
value than it would cost to build good roads. 


"(5) They reduce the value of cottonseed and 
cotton by excess cost of hauHng. They increase the 
price of fertihzers and rations by excess cost of 

" (6) They hinder prosperity and all good causes 
and purposes, and are in partnership with whiskey 
and the gentleman below with a forked tail. 

"Good Roads bring the following advantages: 

"(I) They facilitate church attendance. 

"(2) They facilitate school attendance. 

"(3) They facilitate social and commercial inter- 
course in the country and between the country and 

" (4) They open up a vast resource in the way of 
truck farming, production and sale of chickens, eggs, 
milk, butter, etc. 

"(5) They reduce the price of fertilizers and 
rations, and increase net values of cottonseed and 
cotton. They save wear and tear on wagons, mules, 
and human energy more than enough to pay all cost 
of construction of good roads. 

"With good roads a young girl can profitably raise 
chickens and eggs, and do a butter business, because 
she herself can drive to town and market these. A 
boy may do a fine truck business because he can 
market his products. A farmer's wife may go along 
any day to do a little shopping or pay a visit. Good 
roads make opportunity for young men and young 
women of the coming generation, and keep them at 
home. Bad roads drive them away to find oppor- 

"It will make no difference to the farmers of Edge- 
field whether Blease or Jones is elected governor. 
Those whose candidate is elected will throw up their 


hats and hallo and then go back to work in the old 
way; and those whose candidate is not elected will 
cuss a little, and also go back to work in the old way; 
and the wives and daughters of the supporters of both 
candidates will continue to sigh and lament about the 
old quagmires their husbands call 'roads,' and the 
rest of the young men will continue to go to North 
Carolina, Oregon, or elsewhere to find opportunity. 
One good road of twenty miles would do more good 
for the country than twenty governors. The ques- 
tion of who is made governor makes mighty little 
difference to the man who has to haul wood for a 
living, but it makes all the difference in the world to 
this same man whether he has a fine graded and 
macadamized road to haul over, or a streak of brick 
clay with a mud machine for a wagon. 

"Before the Civil War politics led our grand- 
fathers to the bow-wows. All weVe got to do is to 
stick to politics long enough and industriously 
enough; and we will see our grandfathers all 

"Edgefield County, S. C, has perhaps more 
politics and less good roads than any county in the 
United States; and the worst of it is that her people 
seem not only satisfied with this condition, but 
proud of it." 

Tompkins loved Edgefield, and was proud of its 
honorable fame as a centre of wealth, culture, and 
hospitality in the days of slavery. He treasured all 
the memories of its glorious and delightful past. An 
unpublished monograph by him on the Edgefield 
district displays deep and loving interest in the 
history of the district, and is a fine scholarly tribute 
to Edgefield men and women of former generations. 
He looked upon ante-bellum Edgefield as the fairest 



gem in South Carolina's coronet; and now as 
builder of the New South, he longed for the re-polish- 
ing of that gem into even greater brilliancy and the 
fitting of It in the very front of the crown of the new 
bouth Carolina. 



THE life of Tompkins is full of inspiration and 
instruction. His career was not the result of 
chance, inherited wealth, or help from kindred, 
but the product of character and energy. He found 
friends everywhere, attracted and bound to him by 
his merits. They helped him with opportunities; and 
he modestly credits them with his own achievements. 
But he knew that every man makes his own career; 
and this was the lesson he would teach the youth of 
the South. In teaching it he referred frequently to 
his own work, but only to illustrate and emphasize 
the lesson. "I don't think," said he, *'I am indulg- 
ing in personal vanity in referring to my own experi- 
ence, but do think I am impelled further to forward 
the cause of industrial development and industrial 
education; also to show the way to the youth of the 
South for material, moral, and intellectual progress 
by the path of character and intelligent work." 

The chief characteristic of Tompkins was love of 
work; and the ch ief lesson of his l ife isthe power of 
persistennippiication . "Genius is mostly applica- 
tion," he was fond of saying. In his whole career he 
exemplified and illustrated this noble truth. As a 
boy he drove the mules in the gin house on his father's 
plantation; as a lad he worked in the carpenter and 
blacksmith shops; as a youth he plowed and hoed in 


the big fields. He was never idle in boyhood and 
youth, except when hunting, fishing, or swimming. 
His work was voluntary, was a joyous expression of 
his nature. 

During college vacations in South Carolina he was 
building county bridges a njj-epairing houses. His 
expenses at the University of South Carolina were 
met by these earnings. At the Rensselaer Polytechnic 
Institute in Troy, N. Y., by rigid economy he met 
the expenses of the first year with funds ill-spared by 
his father. His second year's expenses were paid in 
equal shares by his own work at odd hours and his 
remittances from home. The third and fourth years 
he worked each afternoon and every Saturday and 
during the long summer vacations in various in- 
dustrial establishments in Troy. At night in his 
bedroom he did special work as a draftsman. He 
met all expenses of his last two years pt thp institntp. . 
by work and bv personal loan s. 

His diligence and skill while a student in the 
institute attracted the attention of Alexander Holley, 
one of the foremost American engineers and at that 
time a trustee of the institution, who gave him 
employment for a year after graduation as confi- 
dential secretary and draftsman of designs. His 
fidelity and efficiency as a worker secured Holley's 
warm recommendation, whereby he entered upon his 
career at the Bethlehem Iron Works und er the man- 
agement of the great steel maker, John Fritz . His 
career at Bethlehem was a continuous illustration of 
his favorite theory that genius is mostly application. 
While other employees were taking a day off for 
country fairs, or 4th of July celebrations, Tompkins 
was at work. 

When an opportunity came for work abroad under 


very special difficulties installing in ^Germany ne w 
machinery, Tompkins was selected by Fritz to per- 
form the work. ^ Yhen his long apprenticeship was 
ended and he began in^harlotte, N. C, his career as 
engineer"^nd contractor, with little equipment 
^cept a kit of tools, he was marked at once as a 
workman of exceptionaT diligence and efficiency. 
His reputation extended rapidly in all directions, and 
gained for him from George Westinghouse the agency 
for the Westinghouse^engities in the Southeastern 
States. Accepting this agency and working at the 
same time as a machinist and engineer, he was busy 
day and night, as salesman, machinist, engineer, 
contractor, and builder. He was bookkeeper, pro- 
prietor, travelling salesman, and promoter. As busi- 
ness grew, he was constantly on the road, travelling at 
night to save time, and living in sleeping cars. There 
was no busier worker in the South. 

Tompkins worked with an object; not to earn 
money, nor n:erely to employ his restless energies, 
but to produce results, to construct, to fashion^ in 
create, to learn. "I always delighted in constructive 
work," he wrote in his memoirs. "My first 
constructive work as a boy was making a pair of 
gaffs in the blacksmith shop for cock-fighting. Mine 
were far superior to those made by the negro black- 
smiths. But after making two or three pairs, I lost 
interest, and made no more. I had learned all there 
was to learn." 

His faith in the power of work was strong and deep- 
rooted. "If everybody in the South would go to 
work," he was fond of saying, *'if the idlers in 
villages and towns and the loafers around railway 
stations could be converted into productive laborers; 
and if farm workers would stick to their jobs as 


many hours in the day and as many days in the 
year and as dihgently as cotton mill workers, the 
South would be the richest country in the world. It 
surpasses all other sections of the United States in 
climate and natural resources. Now that it is rid of 
the curse of slavery, it should surpass other sections 
also in manufactures, commerce, and agriculture, in 
wealth, education, and culture." 

After locating in Charlotte in 1882, it is doubtful 
whether Tompkins for twenty-five years ever spent 
an idle day. His passion for construction and his 
wonderful versatility kept him always busy. After 
spending the day in promoting some industrial 
organization, or supervising mill construction, he 
would lecture at night before a college or university 
student audience. His versatility was equal to his ]y^ 
energy. He would pass easily and quickly from 
practical engineering work to the study and dis- _^ ^ -/ 
cussion of problems in government and political ^"^ ^ 
economy; from the building and organization of 
textile schools to experiments in cooking; from land- 
scape gardening to building and loan associations; 
from city sewerage to Beethoven's symphonies, from 
trained nurses and typhoid fever to plans for 
marketing cotton; from the undeveloped water power 
of Piedmont, Carolina, to the organizing of a system 
of apprenticeships; from lecturing before national as- 
sociations or speaking before Congressional com- 
mittees to familiar chats in the Charlotte Manu- 
facturers' Club ; from his apartments in the Waldorf 
Astoria to his rooms in the Buford Hotel. With the 
Roman poet he could exclaim, "Homo sum, nil 
humani a me alienum puto." 

His friends called him a genj us. They could not 
otherwise explain his tremendous achievements in so 


many lines of work. But Tompkins smiled at the 
suggestion. "Genius," said he, **is mostly applica- 
tion." Ke was not a genius in the popular accepta- 
tion; but he had a genius for work. He fulfilled his 
own definition. "Few people," said he in an address 
before the students of the North Carolina College at 
Mount Pleasant, "appreciate the pleasure and 
wholesomeness of work. It is like the ocean waves on 
the beach — always dreaded until one is well into 
them, when former apprehension is found to have 
been groundless. The pleasures of all dissipations 
are fading. The pleasures of all work are cumulative. 
Work is pleasanter to-day than it was yesterday. 
It will be pleasanter to-morrow" than it is to-day. 

"I wish to lay emphasis on the expression of my 
conviction that the graduates of this school have 
as fair opportunities as any youth anywhere in the 
world. To derive the advantages cf these opportun- 
ities neither capital nor influence, nor help from the 
North, or from anywhere else is necessary. Indeed, 
all these might be a hindrance. All that is necessary 
is study and work. 

"To do things in a true way, to gain the distinction 
which always comes from perfection, requires work, 
labor, effort — more work, more labor, more effort 
— the most work, the most labor, the most effort. 
Whoever labors for distinction and fame follows a 
phantom. Whoever labors for good results will find 
distinction or fame. Fortune dallies wath fools. 
She is the slave of him who never departs from the 
path of duty and labor." 

Next to love of work w^ ith Tompkins__was love of 
h elping others. T his was the controlling motive of 
his busy life. Speeches, writings, building of milLs 
and colleges, promotion of building and loan associar 


tions, all his activities during thirty years were 
designed to produce for Southern laborers opportun- 
ities of employment, or to stimulate Southern youth 
to education and training for industrial careers, or to 
promote among Southern working people habits of 
industry, thrift, and economy. Outright charity, 
mere giving, except to the sick and helpless, he did not 
regard as real help. "The only real help," said he, 
"is when you help a man to help himself." . . . 
"The best help for the working man is employment." 
. . . "A good pay roll is the best philanthropy." 
. . . "Give the working man an opportunity to 
work and good wages for his work, and he will work 
out his own salvation, material, intellectual, and 
social." . . . "With opportunity for regular 
work and with regular wages in cash, the mill workers 
of the South will do more for their own advancement 
than could ever be done by others for them." . . . 
"The greatest benefactors of the South are those 
who have formulated plans for the industrial develop- 
ment of the South, and have accomplished the main- 
tenance of regular work and regular cash pay rolls. 
Whoever finds the way to keep people employed at 
profitable wages may depend upon it that these 
employed people will, in time, be more instrumental 
than anybody else in their own betterment." 

He knew that work is the best preparation for 
life, and the joy of work the greatest of human 
satisfactions. He had felt this joy, and he wished all 
young men to feel it. He gave it to his best beloved. 
He took his eldest nephew, Sterling Graydon, Esq., 
of Charlotte, at an early age as an apprentice in his 
Charlotte machine shops. The lad worked in 
company with other apprentices, under the same 
contract, at the same wages, doing the same work. 


subject to the same discipline, receiving the same 
instruction and training. At the end of his appren- 
ticeship the nephew borrowed from his uncle money 
to meet expenses in the State Textile School, giving 
notes in due form with legal interest. To pay oflF 
the debt he worked at odd hours during the college 
session and through the long vacations. After 
graduation he entered the Atherton Cotton Mills in 
Charlotte, and worked his way up from the bottom to 
the top. He is now president of the Atherton Mills 
and general manager of his uncle's estate. The 
career that Tompkins thus helped his nephew to 
follow was the career that Tompkins himself had 
followed. He believed that a career of this kind was 
open to any young man in the South. By speeches, 
writings, and advertisements he was always urging 
Southern lads thus to fit themselves for industrial 
work and leadership. It was one of his chief pleasures 
to help such lads obtain an education. 

It is not easy to make an estimate of the number of 
young men helped by Tompkins at schools, colleges, 
and universities. "He never refused to help any 
young man who asked his aid to get an education," 
says his secretary. Miss Twelvetrees. "I never 
knew my brother to turn down a boy or a girl who 
wanted to go to school and came to him to borrow 
money," writes Mrs. Grace Tompkins Ennett. 

"He didn't mind contributing anything to a person 
or a community that helped in their own building 
up." Nor was his help confined to lads seeking an 
education. He was a teacher and wished everybody 
to be at school ; but his school included the big world 
of business. In his school he sought and gi*eeted op- 
portunities to help anybody who was willing to be 
helped in the right way. 


A characteristic example of his methods in helping 
young men to business habits is furnished by a 
reporter for the Charlotte Observer, at that time a 
stranger to Tompkins, but for years afterward a 
close friend, fellow worker, and counsellor: 

"The first thing that I remember about Mr. 
Tompkins is that he helped me out of a troublesome 
situation and started me on the road to financial 
success. I had just graduated from the State 
University, and was working in the Observer oflfice. 
A big debt hung over me, and a note for $200 was 
past due. I was very blue, and was thinking of 
going to Texas. Mr. T. passed by the office, and 
observed my downcast look. 'What is the matter 
with you.f^ I never saw such a dejected-looking 
person. Are you ill?' He came into the office, sat 
down beside me and heard my story. 

"'Well, said he, you need a guardian, you have no 
idea of business. Have you a bank account.?' 

"'Bank account!' I said. 

"'Yes. Where do you keep your money .'^' 

"'My money.? Why, Mr. Tompkins, I have no 
money, not a dollar ahead.' Mr. Tompkins looked 
at me without saying a word for several minutes, 
turned and started out, saying, as he went, 

"'As soon as somebody relieves you, come to my 

"Inside of an hour I had taken out five shares of 
building and loan stock, opened a bank account with 

$25, and paid Mr. $175 of what I owed him. 

Mr. Tompkins pointed the way, signed my note with 
me, and since I have never been without a little bank 
account. From that day I was a friend of Mr. 
Tompkins ; and have often wondered how many poor, 
green, thoughtless youngsters he started in a business 


way. He lectured me briefly, gently, kindly, and 
made me happy. I soon paid for the money with my 
building and loan stock." 

The devotion of Tompkins to his theory of self- 
help is shown by his using this method in helping his 
youngest sister, Mrs. Grace Tompkins Ennett. Let 
her tell the story: 

"I had been teaching a year or so before I ever 
thought of saving any money. I usually drew my 
salary and spent it immediately, and didn't even 
dream I could possibly spare a penny to lay up, as I 
was supporting myself. One day my brother sug- 
gested to me the idea of saving something. He 
asked me how much I received, and inquired gener- 
ally into my expenses; and then told me about the 
building and loan association. I had never even 
heard of such a thing, and didn't even dream that I 
could enter into it, but so great was my admiration 
and belief in him that I gladly followed out his 
directions and took ^ve shares. That was the best 
service my brother ever did n e. It was the begin- 
ning of my own immediate family's acquaintance 
with the B. & L. and I can truly say the acquaintance 
has grown more intimate every year since. He took 
me to New York that summer where the National B. 
& L. Association met, and got me introduced to some 
of the crowd, and I attended all the meetings where 
ladies were allowed, while he was busy downtown. I 
would tell him all about it at night, when we met at 
the close of each day ; and after it was all over, he had 
me write it up, and published what I wrote in the 
Charlotte Observer. 

"The next year we went to New York again for 
my summer vacation. Then it was he began to talk 
about my building a house. He showed me how it 


could be done by renting it and supplementing the 
rent money with a small part of my salary. I im- 
mediately wanted to try it; and we spent many hours 
discussing plans for building and ways and means 
for me to undertake it. He always urged me to ex- 
press my own individuality about the house and not 
to be unduly influenced by himself. But I was so 
ignorant, and believed so in him, that I was anxious 
to follow his lead in the entire matter. He had some 
lovely building lots, so he let me choose any one I 
wished, and sold it to me on credit, taking second 
mortgage, and allowing me to give first mortgage 
to the Building & Loan. Then he got me many 
books with house plans and made me select my own 
plan. I don't think there was a house in Edgefield 
at that time that had been planned by an architect. 
So he had the plans drawn up by the best architects 
in Charlotte, and made me a present of them. I 
shall never forget his enjoyment over my building 
that house. I think he wrote me something about 
it every mail during the building. He thought of 
new ideas and steered me around difficulties and 
generally said he wanted it to be a model for 
Edgefield. That year of the building he took me to 
Cincinnati to the big National Building & Loan Con- 
vention; and, when winter came on, he had me run 
up to Charlotte some week-ends to study interior 
furnishings; and, when it was all completed, he fur- 
nished one of the rooms beautifully for me. After it 
was all ready, the family moved into it, and rented 
the one we had been living in, because the new house 
was so much better than the old. I got the rent 
money for the old house instead. 

"After my house was completed, and we had 
moved in it, my brother began to talk to me about 


the yard. WTien summer came, I went to stay with 
him and kept house for him as usual and always we 
talked and planned about beautifying my grounds. 
He had many ideas, and wanted them carried out, 
but at last decided to get a landscape architect to 
help shape them. Mr. John Nolan of Boston, Mass., 
was working on parks in Savannah and Charlotte; 
so once, when he was passing Edgefield on his way 
to Savannah, he spent one day with me. I am 
sure I was the most ignorant person about plant 
life Mr. Nolan ever met; I was embarrassingly ignor- 
ant. I did not know^ the commonest wild things 
around me. I have been trying to remedy that 
ignorance every day since. Well, my brother 
wanted me to develop plants that were native, * Take 
what you have,' he would say, 'and make the most 
of it.' He would tell me what beautiful gardens 
my grandparents had before the war, and said I 
could do the same. He especially wanted me to 
have pergolas with grapevines growing on them and 
plenty of fig trees planted. He would tell me to 
work to make my place not only pretty and attract- 
ive, but remunerative. He would say if you want a 
shade tree, you can just as well let it be a black 
walnut, you'll get shade and nuts, too. He always 
advised me to sell m.y grapes, figs, fruits, and any- 
thing I grew on my place. 'Show the Edgefield 
people there is no disgrace in working and making 
your home pretty and selling your surplus.' My 
pergolas are here, and the fig trees; and the yard is 
quite pretty. His spirit made it all, and taught me 
besides the most valuable lessons I ever learned." 

On account of old age and semi-invalidism, the 
business affairs and especially the large plantation of 
Tompkins' father became involved in debt and con- 


fusion. Tompkins took hold with characteristic 
energy and desire to help; advanced several thousand 
dollars to square up debts, devised a plan of manage- 
ment on strict business lines, and lifted the property 
out of its hopeless condition. He never allowed him- 
self to be repaid the money he had advanced, but 
tore up his father's notes. Afterward by his father's 
will he was made heir to one sixth of the property 
that he had saved. This, too, he declined to accept, 
giving it to the widow and the other children. 

On the death of his father Tompkins wrote in 
one of his frank letters to his private secretary: "I 
am impelled by my father's death to devote myself 
more freely to the help of others. I cannot think 
that I have ever been especially selfish; but it may be 
that I can do more for others than I am accustomed 
to do." 

He was a constant and generous giver to charitable 
and religious organizations; to churches and hos- 
pitals; to struggling schools and colleges; to Young 
Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations; 
to associations and institutions for training and up- 
lifting the negro. His private secretary and treas- 
urer says: "I kept in Mr. T's books a 'donation 
and gift account'. He gave away quite a sum each 
year, and his contributions spread over many insti- 
tutions and churches. He helped very many young 
men in their education, but his help was generally 
on a loan basis, depending upon the honor of the 
young men and their thrift to pay it back when they 
got to work. Even with his own nephews, whenever 
he advanced money for their college education, it was 
a debt to be repaid with interest. His spirit was 
first to show people how to help themselves." 

Tompkins was a philanthropist, not from emo- 


tional impulse but from desire and purpose to aid 
in the elevation of humanity. "It does us all good," 
he said in his speech at the opening of the Carnegie 
Library, "to feel that we are doing some good in the 
world, or at least are trying to do some good in the 
world. The material advantages of this library are 
probably better than what could be obtained from 
any new business which you could establish for the 
purpose of making money. There is a general good 
which will be advantageous to all material interests. 
The influence of a library is to extend knowledge, 
which, in turn, softens asperities, removes prejudices, 
and extends human happiness. But the greatest 
good is the altruistic work. It is to any individual 
or to any people of supreme advantage to have al- 
ways in hand more or less altruistic work — to be 
doing something in which the motive of self-interest 
is left out." 

The money help given by Tompkins to young 
men and women was very large and very efficient in 
results. But still greater was his help by inspiration, 
through lectures, speeches, and newspaper articles. 
His altruistic motives for attending conventions, 
making speeches before colleges and universities, 
and performing other semi-public missionary work, 
were not always appreciated or even comprehended. 
In his personal memoirs he shows a modest though 
manly indignation at the misunderstandings and 
misrepresentations that often confronted him in his 
philanthropic work. "Someone told me yesterday," 
he writes in his memoirs, "that he heard a man say 
to another, * Tompkins must have had to do a great 
deal of manipulating to get the appointment of 
director in the Equitable'. The other answered, 
*I don't know about that, but I don't see how he is 


going to make anything out of it. ' I am constantly 
confronted with this interrogation in connection with 
my work. 

"There seems to be exceedingly few people who 
are capable of comprehending that I like to do some 
things for the interest I have in the subject and for 
the good of humanity. I went once to Raleigh to 
make an address before the students of the A. & M 
College. The auditorium contained not only the 
students, but a large company of ladies and gentle- 
men who came out from Raleigh to hear the address. 
When it was over, I was cordially complimented ; and 
I think most of those who heard the address were 
really interested in what I said. A number of extra 
trolley cars were waiting to take the Raleigh party 
in, and, on the way in, a Federal officer sat by me 
and amongst other things said, *I have not heard 
a more interesting address in a long time than the 
one you delivered to-night.' Then he leaned over, 
and said, sotto voce, in my ear, *but I cannot see how 
you make anything out of this sort of work.' 

"It is evident that very few people credit anybody 
w^ith any spirit of altruism. I often neglect the 
money-making end of my work for the altruistic 
end, simply because I like it; and my own feeling is 
that I have lost a great deal of money by the neglect 
at times of the money-making end of my business. 
I think that most people have no conception, not 
even the slightest conception, of the fact that a great 
deal of my work is done without any expectation 
of compensation or return. I have printed many 
pamphlets at my own cost, and circulated them, for 
no other reason than that I thought the subject 
needed discussion, and that discussion of the subject 
would do general good. I have distributed and 


printed pamphlets on banking, good roads, building 
and loan associations, working people's homes, and 
similar subjects, in which I had no possible private 
interest, one pamphlet on the cotton gin involving 
much labor and expense, to clear up the matter 
of Whitney's patent rights and his claim that the 
South did not treat him right. I have written and 
published a number of books absolutely without 
regard as to whether I would get the money back or 
not. * Cotton Mill, Processes and Calculations' was 
published for the benefit of students and superintend- 
ents who wanted to learn the cotton mill business. 
I was impelled by letters that I got from a number 
of these asking for formulae. The book on ' Cotton ' 
was written to get the cotton story on record, by 
pictures and printed matter. Yet in the face of this 
work and its publicity people persist in talking to 
me and about me as though I was intent upon getting 
money and that I had no other motive. I think 
this is partially due to the fact that a number of 
people who have been associated with me have been 
trying to get the money while I was doing the al- 
truistic work; and they attempt to justify themselves 
by making it out that they had to fight my greediness 
to get what belonged to them, whereas all the greed 
was on their side. I being always on the defensive, 
if there was a difference of opinion about money. 

"Besides the jEquitable Boar d I am a member of 
the Executive Committee of the T^J^ational Associa- 
tion of Manufacturers; a member of the Executive 
Committee of the Asiatic Association; a member of 
the proxy committee of the Associated Press, and 
I have joined a number of other organizations in 
the work of which I take more or less interest. If 
the desire for money was ever a controlling impulse 


with me I don't know it, and never did know it. 1 
don't think that I ever worked a day in my life or 
the money that was in it. I have done the work that 
I have Hked to do regardless of whether I was paid 
for it or not, and whenever I have been doing work 
for pay my chief concern was that the pay would 
be sufficient to make a good job and give good re- 
sults for the man I was working for. It is wonder ul 
what a different feeling there is m the presence ot a 
set of men who are thinking about nothmg but money 
and in the presence of a set of men who are successful 
but who are willing to do something for the general 
good. There is a great pleasure m associatmg with 
fhe kind of men I meet on the executive committees 
of such associations as the National Associat«>n of 
Manufacturers, the Asiatic Association and the 
Associated Press. They are not only not trying to 
make any money out of the thing, but they never 
Enk about money. Most of them are success^ 
men who have made money very easily and could 
get along without doing other work. 

-•MrTWpkins never Wsidered money m carrying 
out an idea," says his secretary. Miss Twelvetrees^ 
"he would put it through regardless ot cost, lo 
accompHsh a thing he spared neither time nor money^ 
I remember how he took great interest •" getting up 
specimens of cotton in all its stages from the seed to 
the finished cloth, to send to schools in the Northern 
States for the benefit of pupils who never saw any 
cotton growing. He always had in hand some such 
ente^rise and spent thousands of dollars m their 
accomplishment." Similar testimony is borne by 
H. E C. Bryant, an intimate friend and fellow worker 


on the Charlotte Observer for twenty years: ''^fr. 
Tompkins cared nothing for money. Neither he 
nor Mr. Caldwell ever considered money in shaping 
the management and policy of the Charlotte Observer. ^^ 
In altruistic work as speaker, writer, and author, in 
promoting and assisting industrial enterprises that 
were not successful, as well as in philanthropies 
and charities never seen or known by the public, 
Tompkins gratuitously and freely consumed and 
donated for the good of humanity as large a fortune 
as the one which he retained. 

Aj itrnng ch nrnctorint i c o f Tomplrin ^ ij YrrijnLLpnTrrr 
He concentrated his faculties and energies on what- 
ever task he was performing. He would compose a 
speech or plan a building in the midst of a crowd 
or in a railway coach, regardless of noises, interrup- 
tions, and diversions. When he took up an idea, he 
studied it from every angle, and saturated his mind 
with facts and theories concerning it, developing 
the idea in his own mind through many stages of 
evolution, until finally it blossomed forth in perfect 
shape as a manufacturing plant, or a system of ware- 
houses for marketing cotton, or an address on tech- 
nical education, or a scheme for promoting thrift 
and industry among Southern working people. He 
never let go an idea until he had exhausted it. His 
youthful experience at Bethlehem with building and 
loan associations served him for thirty years as a 
lesson in thrift and a text for preaching thrift to 

Only once in his long career did Tompkins change 
a deliberately formed plan or purpose. His early 
ambition was to achieve a career in iron, to become 
a great iron master like John Fritz. This idea bound 
him to Bethlehem during his long apprenticeship. 


But 'when lie studied the^ Southernjndustm^ 
tion and saw thatjhe_SmitEio«14-fe€^aided"more%r 
tiie development of cotton industriea^ than by tlie^ 

to nbecome^ Imissionary of cotton. His making . 

tTie"cEange^as a fine exhibition of^ill power; for ^ 

he tore up by the roots the settled purpose and strong 
ambition of his early life. Will power was the force 
that carried him not only through life's triumphs 
and successes, but also through disappointments, 
discouragements, and pending disasters. It enabled 
him to face life without flinching, to meet its difficul- 
ties with courage and determination never to yield. 
A beautiful and striking illustration of Tompkins' 
will power and a most instructive lesson to young 
men was his overcoming a natural bashfulness and 
disinclination to speak in public. "As a boy at 
school my brother had a horror of speaking in public,' 
says Hon. A. S. Tompkins. "Friday afternoon at 
the old field schools, he would often be punished 
before he would undertake the usual old field school 
declamation. By nature taciturn and of few words, 
he just could not, for a long time, get up in public 
and spout out something he did not feel. His first 
attempts at public speaking later in life were utter 
failures and he broke down. Once after such a fail- 
ure before an indulgent audience, he said that he was 
inspired with the thought that he never could make a 
bigger failure than he had just made; and so, in time, 
by strong tenacity of purpose, he not only overcame 
this embarrassment, but found himself making 
speeches all over the country, as much to his own 
amazement as anybody else's. He had reached that 
mental attainment where he had something to say. 
Ideas of instruction and construction, nascent 


thoughts that burst through the eggshell of his em- 
barrassment with all that gentle force that nature 
hatches out the young chick. He learned not only 
to speak in public with ease and grace, but with a 
dash of Irish humor in his nature, he would adorn 
his speeches with anecdotes and illustrations." 
When Tompkins realized that oratory is one of the 
« fffeatest instrumentalities for moving mankind, 
\/and that Southern people especially are aroused to 
action mainly by public speeches, he focussed his will 
power and concentrated his energies on the appar- 
ently impossible task of making himself a fluent, 
attractive, and forcible speaker. His success was 
perfect; a great triumph of character, energy, and will 
power over natural timidity and reticence. For 
thirty years he made speeches before colleges, schools 
and universities, before state legislatures and com- 
mittees of Congress, before national associations of 
bankers, manufacturers, and social workers, before 
local gatherings of farmers, merchants, and laborers, 
before cotton mill operatives and women's clubs, 
before millionaire capitalists and young men starting 
penniless in life.CHe never spoke for pay, or for 
x^^ politics, or from vanity. His speeches were gratui- 
tous and philanthropic They exhibited him as a 
student of history and economic problems, as a deep 
and original thinker, as a prophet with a vision of 
the future and a message to the world. He never 
made a tiresome speech. His audiences always 
wished for more. They recognized him at once as 
master of his subject, as having a purpose to help 
and instruct, as free from vanity and desire for 
self -ostentation. Anybody could interrupt him and 
ask questions. He was the most popular, the most 
forcible, the most efficient of all Southern speakers 


who spoke without pay, without politics, without 
vanity, and solely for the promotion of the public 
good. His anecdotes, his witticisms, his aphoristic 
sentences became current coin throughout the nation. 
His work as a speaker was a powerful factor in his 
work as a builder. It should be to young men a 
helpful lesson not only in will power, but also in 
speaking. It shows that a man can speak, if he has 
something to say, that "an orator," as Quintilian 
says, "is a good man, strongly moved." 

The social instincts were very strong in Tompkins. 
They were exhibited in long and enduring friendships, 
in constant and generous hospitality, in love of home 
and kindred, as well as in writing, speaking, and work- 
ing for the general uplift of humanity. He was fond 
of folks, and loved company — was warmed by the 
light of a friendly eye and the touch of a friendly 

His fondness for children and young girls and cul- 
tured women was the tenderest quahty in his appar- 
ently rugged nature. As a child he was "mother's 
boy," loving to be fondled and caressed, as a lad he 
was "buddy", the darling of his sisters, as a young 
worker at Bethelehem he sought out, and was ac- 
cepted as a friend, in the most cultured homes. A 
friendship here formed endured until his death, with 
frequent and loving letters through years of toil and 
busy work on his part, of travel in many lands and 
residence in many places by his friend. After his 
death, among hundreds of letters there came to his 
private secretary a tender note of woe from Mrs. F., 
his Bethlehem good angel: "Some day when you 
have time, perhaps you will write me a little more 
about the last days of Mr. Tompkins; if he talked 
of the good old days in Bethlehem, when he played 


with my children and considered my home a place 
for rest and pleasure in his very busy and lonely 
life." Another highly cultured lady friend kept up 
for thirty years an active correspondence with him, 
never failing to send him greetings on his birthdays, 
as well as at Christmas, New Year's, Easter, and 
other festivals. At the age of seventy she was 
writing him, "I do not know a more profitable way I 
can spend the Sabbath than having a little chat with 
you," and again, "I wish you to know that I am 
thinking of you this Christmas day." He carefully 
treasured and preserved all these tokens of friendship 
and esteem. 

A tender sympathy attracted him to the female 
sex, and secured for him women friends, wherever 
he lived, or travelled, or worked. For years after 
working in Germany, he corresponded with the wife 
and two daughters of the German schoolmaster with 
whom he had boarded; and filed their letters. His 
busy life was cheered and warmed by constant episto- 
lary greetings from countless lady friends, whose 
letters were filed away among his treasures, some 
humorous, some abounding in good fellowship, some 
full of happy reminiscences, some teasing and banter- 
ing, some abounding in grateful appreciation of 
generous assistance, all warm with admiration, regard, 
and genuine friendship. His women friends admired 
his strength of mind, body, and character; and were 
charmed with his never-failing courtesy and gene- 
rosity. Every woman to him was an object of rever- 
ence, or admiration, or affection. He aided many 
girls to an education, preferring to develop their 
character by loans rather than by gifts. But he 
would not accept interest, and in proper cases the 
loans became gifts. He would take women and 


girls who needed building up on vacation trips to 
the seashore or to Northern cities. He was a con- 
stant sender of flowers, books, and small gifts of money 
to lady friends in hospitals, or in needy circumstances. 
Struggling artists were encouraged with generous 
orders for portraits; authors were assisted with loans; 
sick girls were sent as his guests to hospitals and 
afterward during convalescence to seaside or other 
resorts "During his frequent visits to Kaleigh, 
savs his sister, "he never took dinner without having 
as his guests a bevy of Charlotte girls, who were 
pupils in St. Mary's or Peace Institute. In New 
York he would hunt up girl friends and acquaintances 
from the South, and drive them around the city 
and through the parks and take them to theatres 
He loved the whole sex and enjoyed intensely female 
sympathy, female presence, and the female touch. 
"Few people understood my brother s affectionate 
disposition and his desire to be loved and petted. 
The last few years of his life, during his semi-invalid- 
ism, I always helped him undress; and often when 
he started to bed he would call all the girls m the 
house and say, 'Come and put me to bed. VVe 
would all come, and he would heartdy enjoy it, 
as one would unlace a shoe, another take off his coat, 
etc Then he always wanted to be kissed good-night 
and kissed good-morning. After he was m bed, it 1 
was sewing or reading, he frequently asked me to sit 
in his room near Us beside, so he would feel my pres- 
ence in his sleep." , 
His fondness for children was equaUy marked. 
"I never saw any one," said his private secretary, 
"who enjoyed children as much as Mr. Tompkms. 
Whenever he came to Mr. Fred Oliver's, where I 
lived in Charlotte, he would get on the floor, or on 


the couch, and the children would romp all over 
him. He said it was a great pleasure and a diversion 
for him after being all day in the drawing room, work- 
ing on engineering plans. His fondness for children 
and his entertainment of them lasted all through his 
life. He frequently would invite three or four little 
girls and take them on a day or two stay at his High- 
shoals Mills. He liked little boys also, but was 
especially fond of little girls and young school girls, 
and young lady college girls. If he went any place 
where any of his girl friends were attending college. 
North, South, or anywhere, he found time to give 
them some little outing, a meal at the hotel, or an 
evening at the theatre, according as they were al- 
lowed, and as he could arrange for a chaperone for 
them. He always knew the right way to do this 
sort of things. He often took ladies on pleasure 
trips with his sister Grace as a chaperone; and very 
seldom sat down to a meal anywhere that he did not 
have some lady take it with him." 

"My brother loved children with a very strong 
affection," writes Mrs. Ennett. "He frequently 
came in the hotel at Charlotte and brought a child 
with him whom he had picked up on the street for a 
meal. When he lived at Montr eat our neighbor's 
children were all his pets. They would sit upon his 
knee and thoroughly enjoy him as much as he en- 
joyed them." 

In correspondence with his friends Tompkins 
rarely failed to mention by name each child in the 
family; and, if there was a girl, she was sure to be 
the centre of his thoughts. "My dear Bryant, 
First of all, give my love to Betty, then if there is any 
left you and Mrs. Bryant can divide it between you. 
I enjoyed the visit of the ladies exceedingly, and I 


enjoyed Betty in particular, because she was such a 
sweet, natural, and guileless child, she is neither for- 
ward nor backward but whose manners are charm- 
ing as they were born in her." 

It is a wise man who chooses well his friends. In 
this wisdom Tompkins was very wise. His lady 
friends, old and young and little children, warmed 
his life with joy and sunshine, lifting him many times 
out of the shadows. There was one whose benefi- 
cent influence, never-failing loyalty and invaluable 
help began with his life work at Charlotte, and never 
relaxed until he closed his eyes in death at Montreat. 
For more than thirty years, first as his stenographer, 
then as private secretary, and finally as private book- 
keeper, treasurer, and close friend, Miss Anna L. 
Twelvetrees devoted herself absolutely to the pro- 
motion of his interests. Her fine mental ability and 
training, with rare talent for details, enabled her to 
familiarize herself with his voluminous business and 
immense correspondence, and to attain such a degree 
of efficiency, both of management and of counsel, 
that she became not only his indispensable assistant, 
but his alter ego. His high regard and esteem for her 
and his confidence in her character and ability were 
attested by his making her one of the joint heirs of 
his large estate and appointing her as one amongst 
his executors to carry out his last will and testament. 

In selecting friends Tompkins was wise; in dealing 
with them he was kind and just, unselfish and gen- 
erous. He sought out Joseph P. Caldwell, brought 
him from Statesville to Charlotte, and made possible 
his great career as editor of the Charlotte Observer, 
financing that paper through struggling years of 
poverty and heavy expense. But Tompkins did 
more than this: he wrote almost daily one or more 


columns of editorials, or news, or comment, to be 
published in the Observer without credit to him. He 
loved Caldwell like a brother, took care of his 
financial interests with the tenderness of a father, and 
joined in the public applause which credited him 
with the entire achievement. Tompkins was sat- 
isfied with helping to produce for the South a model, 
independent, industrial daily newspaper. He neither 
wished nor sought credit for his own endless work in 
this great production. 

Even his own career Tompkins would habitually 
attribute to others, who had influenced his plans and 
purposes, or given him opportunities for work: Prof. 
E. P. Alexander of the University of South Carolina, 
who recognized his constructive talents and advised 
him to go North for technical training and educa- 
tion; Alexander L. Holley, the great engineer, who 
inspired him with confidence and ambition on his 
graduation from college in Troy; John Fritz, iron 
master, who gave him the severe training essential 
to his future success ; and George Westinghouse, who 
made him agent for his vast interests in the South- 
eastern States. He rarely made a speech without re- 
ferring to one or more of these men. Among his 
unpublished papers is a pamphlet entitled "My 
Four Bosses," in which he sketches the lives and 
works of Alexander, Holley, Fritz, and Westinghouse, 
testifying his gratitude to them for molding his life 
and crediting them with all the achievements of his 

His friendship with Fritz grew warmer and 
stronger every year, and culminated in his selection 
by Fritz to write his biography. This work was 
prevented by failing health; and on the urgent ad- 
vice of Tompkins, Fritz dictated his autobiography, 


adopting the plan and style suggested by Tomp- 

Many strong and lasting friendships, based upon 
mutual esteem and confidence, enabled Tompkins 
to form business connections of the greatest import- 
ance to himself, to Charlotte, to the Piedmont 
South, and to Southern industrial development 
generally. His early partnership in Charlotte with 
R. M. Miller, Sr.; his agency for Westinghouse; his 
business connections with the Mason Company of 
Taunton, Mass.; and the Vaile Co., at Dayton, Ohio; 
his friendship with R. H. Edmonds, editor of the 
Manufacturers' Record; with the oflScers and leading 
spirits in various State and National industrial and 
financial associations; with leading editors and news- 
paper publishers throughout the country; with 
college faculties and presidents; with members of the 
National Congress and of various state legislatures, 
formed a strong chain of influence and power in 
promoting and extending Southern industrial enter- 
prise, in educating Southern sentiment, and in 
arousing the Southern people to action along many 
lines of work. His life is a lesson in the value of 
friends and the power of friendship. 

The last five years of the life of Tompkins were 
spent in a condition of semi-invalidism after a slight 
stroke of paralysis. It was during this period 
that his finest and most lovable qualities were mani- 
fested: abounding hospitality and love of humanity, 
patience and cheerfulness, breadth of mind and 
human sympathy, interest in everything pertaining 
to life. 

After partially recovering from the stroke of 
paralysis, Tompkins built a home at Montreat, 
Buncombe County, N. C, at the foot of the Black 


Mountain range. His cottage was on a spur of the 
mountain overlooking the beautiful Swannanoa 
Valley and affording a grand view of distant moun- 
tain ranges. This was the first home that he ever 
had. The untimely death of his fiancee, followed by 
a life of ceaseless labor and much travel, with daily 
shifting residence, had crushed his hopes for a home 
and made him a dweller in hotels, sleeping cars, and 
club rooms. But rest had come at last — rest most 
welcome and most unwelcome. Unused to rest and 
longing for work, he fought for awhile against fate, 
seeking everywhere remedies and treatment for his 
illness. But soon, in spite of hopes and assurances 
from friends and physicians, his clear mind saw the 
truth, and his brave, cheerful spirit accepted it. 
"When he finally knew he would never be well," 
says Mrs. Ennett, "he took it most beautifully. He 
began to interest himself in his home, reading and 
making the most of what was left for him in life. He 
told me that he had made up his mind definitely that 
for his own sake and the sake of his friends, he must 
be cheerful and throw off the worry of bad health. 
I never saw a gamer, braver spirit than his through 
the five years of his invalidism." . . . "When 
we went to housekeeping, he interested himself in 
everything, even in cooking. He bought five different 
cooking stoves just to experiment with: they were a 
fireless cooker, a coal and wood range, an oil stove, an 
electric range and an Alladin's oven. He often said 
-4ie would have been a cook if he had his life to go 
over; and cited the wonderful scientific possibilities 
connected with cooking. He explained what a 
wonderful field cooking had, and how he would have 
started right at the foundation of cooking, just as 
he did at machine work, and gradually have worked 


himself up to one of the biggest hotel men in the 
United States. His patience and hopefulness were 
never exhausted. He would encourage me to carry 
through to successful end whatever experiment 
we undertook. *Just keep trying,' he would say, 
*you may fail forty eleven times, but you are bound 
to succeed if you just keep trying.' He used to have 
a story he was fond of telling about a ship becalmed 
out at sea in the mouth of the Amazon River without 
drinking water. This ship sighted another and began 
to signal for water. The answer came, *Let down 
your buckets where you are.' It was done, and 
fresh water was found right there, where the crew 
thought they were going to die of thirst. He 
frequently said everybody had opportunities right 
where they were, if they only looked for them, and 
tried to use them. 

"My brother was one of the most hospitable 
persons I ever knew: he very seldom sat down to a 
meal in his Montreat home without guests. He 
would actually sit down and try to think of some 
extra guest to invite in. The table was always set 
with extra seats so that company could be invited 
in without a moment's notice. But he was fond of 
plain food, plain dress, and plain hving. He liked 
Southern dishes and Southern cooking. I always 
felt that he enjoyed reproducing in his Montreat 
home our father's South Carolina home." 

To his Montreat home Tompkins cordially invited 
his many friends, North and South. "You forget 
that I am seventy years old," replied one of his life- 
long lady friends. Many could not come, from 
sickness, old age, or business, but sweet letters of love 
and friendship blessed and cheered his heart. And 
guests in large numbers did come almost daily: 


artists, authors, teachers, preachers, editors, bet- 
terment workers, trained nurses, manufacturers, col- 
lege presidents, mill workers, statesmen, and politi- 
cians, old and young, rich and poor, mothers, 
matrons, and pretty girls. *' I remember sitting down 
to dinner at my brother's home in Montreat with 
over a dozen lady guests," says A. S. Tompkins, 
"I being the only gentleman and feeling somewhat 
abashed by the brilliant galaxy of lovehness and 

"His home at Montreat was rarely without lady 
guests," says his secretary, Miss Twelvetrees. "He 
would talk to them on all kinds of subjects, not only 
literature, music, and current news, but gardens, 
flowers, building homes, cooking, making tea, educat- 
ing children, etc. His company when out driving 
was usually from among his lady friends, young, 
middle aged, or old, married or single, according 
as he felt at the time." 

His life at Montreat exhibits Tompkins as master 
of himself, making the most of the powers that 
he had, enjoying the life that remained, and serving 
humanity. With devoted and congenial friends as 
his guests and daily companions, with nature in 
majestic grandeur and beauty to gladden his eyes and 
elevate his soul, with books, magazines, and news- 
papers picturing the daily life of the world with 
letters to and from absent friends, with intellect 
strong and clear, with spirit sweet, cheerful, and 
responsive to life, he was a beautiful illustration of the 
superiority of the soul and the mind over the physi- 
cal body. Nor was he idle. Each day he kept a 
stenographer busy, as he dictated letters, newspaper 
articles, personal memories, and business directions. 
With bodv weakened and disabled, he was still a 


good soldier of humanity, fighting bravely with 
brain and heart. 

His mind struggled with all the problems of life. 
He was fond of analyzing his own sickness. "Since 
I have been sick," he wrote in his memoirs, "I have 
had occasion to reflect upon the multitudinous 
phases that exist in the nervous system of the hu- 
man body and the multitudinous ways in which 
these may get out of order. A life that is strenuous, 
but not the best balanced for exercise and recreation, 
is liable to lead to a sort of general breakdown of the 
nervous system. I have been astonished to see how 
many people suffer from general debility, or break- 
down. In most of the cases the mind does not give 
way at all, but is handicapped with a weakened body. 
The probabilities are that at the Battle of Waterloo 
Napoleon's energies and vital forces had been simply 
overstrained; and, therefore, he lost the Battle of 
Waterloo. While he was on the Island of St. Helena, 
his vital energy seemed to be low. He was many 
times peevish and fretful, which is nothing but a 
general breakdown of one of the phases of the ner- 
vous system, due to overwork and over-exertion and 
not sleeping enough and not rest enough. 

"The doctors don't seem to study these sort of 
cases as they ought to. The average doctor knows 
what to do if you have snake bite or smallpox, but in 
the case of a complicated nervous trouble they don't 
seem to try much to diagnose the case. This re- 
mark must not be construed as making light of the 
doctors. It is simply that they have no way of know- 
ing how the weariness of the body may become in- 
capable of taking care of the activities of the mind; 
and, therefore, the mind becomes crippled and can- 
not get its ideas executed. It seems to me the 



remedy is wholly Nature's remedy. The primitive 
man is building up mental and physical strength, 
which are wasted in the process of civilization. The 
only way to recuperate them is for a man to go into 
the mountains or a cool Northern climate, and return 
to the primitive life, as it were. Even in this situa- 
tion the process is very slow. The greatest difficulty 
is for the man himself to get his own consent to pull 
himself loose from his life ties and life activities, and 
return to the simple life away from civilization. 
Someone has said, 

*0h, for a lodge in some vast wilderness. 
Where wars and rumors of wars could never reach 

me more.' 
"This describes a sort of retirement that a man 
has got to enter upon. The feeling of many a man 
is that this is such a revolution he might as well 
continue the old way, and die, rather than enter upon 
retirement, and lengthen out a useless life." 

A useless life! Nothing could be more repugnant 
and more impossible to Tompkins. He preferred 
to die in the harness. Unable to walk, he dictated 
to his stenographer newspaper editorials, comments, 
and criticisms on every subject of interest to hu- 
manity. The following are samples of the topics he 
discussed in various newspaper articles during his 
invalidism: Panama Canal Tolls, Morris Plan of 
Banking, Harry Thaw, Life Insurance, Ulster and 
Irish Home Rule, Mexico, Rural Credits, Cotton 
Planting and Marketing, Diamonds, Tuberculosis 
in North Carolina, Boy and Farm, Export Trade, 
Women as Mechanics, Building and Loan Associa- 
tions, Sand Clay Roads, School Declamations, Philip- 
pine Independence, Lynching, Merchant Marine, 
Parcel Post, System of Taxation, N. C. Constitu- 


tional Amendments, Recent Books, Freight Rates, 
Initiative and Referendum, The Tariff, Good Cook- 
ing, Immigration, Cotton Pickers. 

He was deeply interested in current events, es- 
pecially the national elections, the amendments to 
the North Carolina State Constitution and con- 
gressional and state legislation. His interest in 
life never flagged. He still longed to make contribu- 
tions to human knowledge, power, and happiness. 
Even his own illness was occasion and material for 
studying the mystery of human thought and human 
conscience : 

"The reason that I cannot walk is not that the 
strength of my limbs gives out, but there is a sort of 
backward charge, apparently, over the nervous sys- 
tem to the brain. In other words, the nervous fluid, 
whatever it is that is sent out by the brain, does not 
reach the muscles of the limbs in full force, but 
surges back to its origin in the brain; and the limb 
refuses to move. A cloud may be heavily charged 
with lightning by some means which nobody yet 
knows. Such a charge can induce another charge 
in an adjacent cloud, or on a wire more or less adja- 

"Nature seems to be full of forces that we don't 
understand; the forces of love and hate amongst 
others. The mind has a faculty of selecting these 
forces and binding them together in such quantities 
as seem fit. Or selecting them as between good and 
evil. Herein is where the Creator has made the 
individual responsible. As there are twenty-six 
letters in the alphabet which by multiplicity of 
arrangement can be made to mean a multiplicity 
of different things, so a multiplicity of forces in 
Nature and in the brain may be capable of producing 


mental or psychic combinations that give direction 
to each individual life. It occurs to me that there 
might be millions, or even an infinite number, of 
such forces; and that possibly the human mind might 
be endowed with ability to select such thoughts 
as constitute any ordinary motive. In fact, other 
animals as well as man may be so endowed, with or 
without the volition to select. If there is such an 
endowment in man, a proper exercise of it is what 
constitutes the responsibility of the Christian religion 
and human life." 

The deep problems of life impressed Tompkins 
more and more as physical activities ceased to employ 
his mind. He was not a church member, although 
he had always been active and generous in helping to 
build and support churches. "He was not a church 
goer," says Miss Twelvetrees, "but thought it 
good for others to go. He was fond of saying that 
he was doing work which the church did not do. He 
believed in the principles of the Bible, and during his 
last years he gave more outward expression and inter- 
est in talking of and the study of the Bible. It was 
read aloud daily around his family table at Mon- 

Among his favorite guests at Montreat were two 
fc41ow workers on the Charlotte Observer^ Howard A. 
Banks and H. E. C. Bryant. The latter, at this 
time Washington correspondent of the New York 
World and also of the Charlotte Observer, shared 
with Tompkins the pleasures not only of friendly 
reminiscence and philosophic meditation, but also 
the undercurrent of news in the national capitol and 
the newspaper world, not omitting the choicest gossip 
and brightest stories. Tompkins loved Bryant and 
his family almost as his own kindred. Howard A. 


Banks, now associate editor of the Philadelphia 
Sunday School Times, was also very near and dear. 
His last visit to Montreat, two months before the 
death of Tompkins, was followed by a friendly letter 
containing an appeal for a confession of Christian 
faith: *'I have been intending before this to drop you 
a line to thank you for your delightful hospitality 
and for the opportunity to become acquainted with 
the lovely women of your household. I cannot close 
without saying (and I hope you will not consider me 
bold nor impertinent) that I trust you are putting 
your faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 
who only can save us from our sins through His atone- 
ment accomplished on the Cross. 

"I know you have always had the highest respect 
for genuine Christianity, but I never heard you say 
that you were on the safe side of the line yourself. 
K you are, no harm can come from my writing this; 
if you are not, I trust you will, by the act of the will, 
take the easy step over the line and get the all-need- 
ful vision of 'The Lamb of God, which taketh away 
the sins of the world.' Forgive one who has learned 
so much from you, to say this much." 

The following reply was made by Tompkins about 
a month before his death : 

"My Dear Banks: I have not intended to 
neglect your kind letter referring to my spiritual con- 
dition. I have never been unmindful of the Creator, 
nor of His omniscience or omnipotence. For good 
reason He has withheld from mankind a full knowl- 
edge of the mysteries of His divinity, but for the 
benefit of mankind Christ intervened and atoned for 
some of these deficiencies. Through Him and by 
faith we may or may not, according as we make an 
effort, be allowed ultimately to participate in the per- 


feet plans of the Creator. I know that I have not 
done the best that I might have done, but with the 
knowledge of Christ's atonement and with simple 
faith, my mind and heart are put at rest on the sub- 
ject of the future." 

His paralysis now began to extend over the body, 
and soon reached the brain. The end came with- 
out pain or struggle at noon of October 18, 1914. 

On his death there came from the North voices 
of sorrow and admiration. The Northern estimate 
of him was expressed in a message from the National 
Association of Cotton Manufacturers, through the 
secretary: "We had come to regard him in the in- 
dustrial world as the foremost citizen of the South." 
The judgment of the South had already been ex- 
pressed two years before by the Manufacturers* 
Record: "During the last twenty -five years the 
South has had many great leaders in business, in 
finance, in educat'onal work, in newspaper control, 
but in all the list — and a long one it is of men who 
have proved themselves giants indeed — there has 
not appeared a greater or more unique character, or 
one who has done a vaster amount of work for right 
thinking and right training and right development on 
broad and safe lines, as opposed to speculative opera- 
tions, than D. A. Tompkins." 

As a little white master during the days of slavery 
he had wandered with negro companions through the 
big woods and played in the cotton fields and slave 
cabins. He had listened to the stories of Uncle 
Remus, and slept in the arms of a negro mammy. 
The memory of it all thrilled him with tenderest 

But he lived to rejoice in the overthrow of slavery 
and secession, to champion ship subsidies and pro- 


tective tariffs, to dethrone King Cotton from the 
fields and enthrone him in the mills. 

He raised liis native State and his adopted State 
to first and second rank respectively in the number 
of cotton-manufacturing establishments among the 
states of the American Union. 

He was known as a missionary of cotton, but his 
tireless energy and versatility, his broad vision and 
universal sympathy made him speaker, writer, or 
worker in every field of industrial activity. 

He built a New South — of mills and factories, of 
skilled labor and machinery, of diversified and 
intensified agriculture, of improved railways and 
highways, of savings banks and building and loan 
associations — a New South also of public schools, 
technical colleges, and expanding universities, of in- 
dependent journaHsm and independent thought — a 
New South of universal education and democracy. 





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